South African President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday said delayed revisions to South Africa’s Mining Charter, which sets industry targets for black ownership and participation in the sector, will be published and become law in the next few weeks.
The country’s Cabinet last week approved the new draft of the mining charter.
The mining industry has complained that it has not been consulted enough about the revisions stating that South Africa’s mining industry is losing badly needed investment as a result.
The looming dispute threatens to prolong uncertainty and further slow spending in South Africa’s biggest export industry.
Fixed investment in mining dropped in each of the past two years and companies including Sibanye Gold Ltd. have warned that any new investment will be a tough sell in the current environment.
“The government and the Chamber of Mines haven’t really sat down on this issue, and much of the public discourse has been posturing by both sides,” said John Meyer, a London-based analyst at SP Angel Corporate Finance.
According to the chamber, the industry may head to court this month if the government imposes harmful changes.
South Africa holds the biggest reserves of platinum, chrome and manganese. In 2010, Citigroup Inc. valued the mineral wealth at $2.5 trillion, the highest of any nation.
South Africa’s push for increased black ownership of the mining industry is part of an effort to address the legacy of apartheid that locked the black majority out of key sectors.
However, critics say many deals have benefited the politically connected elite and deter foreign investors in the country.