Mineral Resources Committee Meets to Deliberate on Corruption, Illegal Mining and Other Issues

The Minerals and Energy Portfolio Committee met on August 23 to deliberate on its approach to the Glencore miner’s corruption case and allegations of misuse of mine rehabilitation funds.

After briefings from the Parliamentary Legal Services and the committee’s content advisor, the committee agreed on the processes relating to the legal action against Glencore.

The committee was also made aware of a 2018 investigation by the Department of Minerals and Energy into allegations of corruption related to licensing and general management in regional offices in Limpopo County, of Mpumalanga and the Free State.

The committee also handled correspondence from Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA) and Women Affected by Mining United in Action (WAMUA), among others.

Regarding the Glencore case, the committee heard that Glencore had pleaded guilty in the United States to charges of bribery and market manipulation.

However, while Glencore operates in South Africa and the guilty plea signals a warning, the network of corruption in which Glencore operates does not find expression in South Africa.

The committee also heard that allegations of misuse of mine rehabilitation funds began in 2015/16 with the sale of the Optimum coal mine. At the time, concerns were raised in the media and in Parliament through questions to the minister and departmental officials at committee meetings.

At that time, the department reported to the committee that everything was under control and that there was nothing wrong with the administration of the funds. However, it later emerged that this information, as reported to Parliament, was incorrect. The department’s former Deputy Director General (DDG) and others were arrested on May 25 and 26 to face charges related to the misuse of funds.

At the meeting, the committee was informed that it could schedule a meeting with the minister and ask him to undertake a review of the mining licenses and contracts granted by the department to Glencore in South Africa.

The committee also learned that it was free to recommend to the minister that such a review include a forensic investigation by an independent body.

The committee was further informed that it was in no way precluded from undertaking a review of departmental governance in relation to the alleged embezzlement of mining rehabilitation funds by the former DDG and any other officials, even though it overlaps issues in court.

The committee therefore resolved to call on the department to appear before Parliament to report on the matter.

The committee will also ask the department to inform it of the results of the investigation into the allegations of corruption and mismanagement of licenses in the regional offices of Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Free. The committee also wants the briefing to include recommendations from the investigations and their implementation.

The committee also decided that MACUA and WAMUA should inform it on August 30 of its Labor Social Plan 2022 audit report, its views on the High Court’s decision on the Mining Charter and on the exploitation illegal mining.

The committee has decided to carry out a wider monitoring visit to all areas where illegal mining is rampant in South Africa.

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