South Africa’s department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has officially, launched tender to replace dysfunctional mine licensing system.
DMRE’s Director-General Thabo Mokoena officiated the launch and said the dysfunctional Samrad mine licensing system has been blamed for a backlog in the processing of more than 5,000 applications for mining and related rights.
A workable replacement to Samrad is crucial. A replacement would be an online mining cadastre, which is an online portal that is open to the public. It provides comprehensive geological data about a country or mining jurisdiction, gives information on mining permits that have been issued, including expiry dates, and lists available mining or prospecting rights and so on.
Such a system brings badly needed transparency to the sector and greatly diminishes opportunities for corruption. South Africa’s poor showing on this front is widely seen as an obstacle to investment and explains why so little exploration – less than 1% of global exploration-spend – currently takes place here, despite the vast resource wealth that still remains in the ground after more than a century of industry-scale mining.
That abundance of resource wealth is also behind South Africa’s record-setting trade surpluses and the record earnings that mining companies operating here have been posting. But little of that massive splash of cash is going into things like exploration or new mines. Hence the urgency behind replacing Samrad – it is a timescale that cannot be geological.
“The DMRE has commenced with the procurement process of a new modern system that seeks to simplify and improve efficiency in the rendering of services to the investors in the mining industry and the public,” said the department.
“The system is expected to provide a technology layer that is responsive and allows for modern workplace functionality and transparency, easily accessible by the users and to ensure compliance with our legislations. We believe this will reduce the turnaround time in the process of granting exploration and mining rights,” added DMRE.
End of October is the stated deadline and State Information Technology Agency (Sita) tenders typically have various BBBEE requirements that could exclude international companies that might actually have a track record in this complex space. In the wake of the Karpowership SA debacle regarding its tender for the dubious provision of “emergency power” to South Africa’s flailing grid, one would reckon the DMRE would not want to mess this up. But the DMRE’s track record on emergency or urgent measures is certainly wanting.