SA minerals charter to create legal torrent

A socio-economic empowerment charter released last week by the South African government's Department of Minerals and Energy will see lawyers enjoy a flood of work over the next few years.

The charter, aimed at empowering historically disadvantaged South Africans (HDSA), says that the industry must achieve 26 per cent HDSA ownership of mining industry assets within 10 years, a target that will apply to each mining company individually.

It also states that the South African mining companies have agreed to assist HDSA companies in securing R100bn (£6.25bn) of finance to fund participation in the industry within the first five years.

Bell Dewar & Hall mining and minerals partner Blaize Vance said: “It's going to mean an awful lot of work for lawyers. Not just for the firms that traditionally act for the mining companies, but also for those that specialise in project finance, those acting for the empowerment parties, the banks and firms with employment specialists. The list is endless.”

The department hopes the funding will come from a variety of sources, including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank and the mining companies themselves.”

A large part of the R100bn funding will be done through acquisitions, which will mean a lot of work for corporate and project finance lawyers,” Vance said.

The charter will also mean that international firms acting on behalf of investors will have to refer more work to South African firms to get advice for their clients who must abide with the charter.

Firms that traditionally act for the large mining companies include Webber Wentzel Bowens, Deneys Reitz, Werksmans and Bowman Gilfillan.