A court hearing for a challenge by South Africa’s mining industry to revisions to a sector charter which include raising levels of black ownership has been postponed to February from December, the Chamber of Mines said on Monday.
The uncertainty around the matter is an added headwind deterring investment into a sector that accounts for 8% of South Africa’s economic output.
The Mining Charter is part of a wider empowerment drive in South Africa designed to rectify the disparities of apartheid that persist more than two decades since the end of white minority rule in 1994.
“A judge decided that two days was not enough time and asked for three days, so the matter has been postponed,” said Memory Johnstone, a spokeswoman for the chamber.
Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane said in a statement that the postponement was “regrettable … We will, however, abide by the granting of the postponement”.
The Chamber of Mines has filed a court application to challenge the latest revisions, which it says were imposed by the government without consultation. It also says that many of the new rules are unaffordable for an industry grappling with depressed prices and rising costs.
About two-thirds of platinum mines in the world’s largest producer of the precious metal are not making money at current prices, according to the chamber.
Bones of contention include raising the target for black ownership to 30% from 26%.
The new rules also stipulate that mining firms must pay 1 percent of their annual turnover to the Mining Transformation and Development Agency, which helps black communities.