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South Africa’s new mining charter will be finalised and put into law by the end of March, according to the country’s mines minister.

Speaking at Mining Indaba in Cape Town, Mosebenzi Zwane also said amendments to the Mineral and Petroleum Resource and Development Act, another key piece of regulation, would be finalised three month later, in June.

Both the mining charter and the MPRD are keenly awaited by the mining industry. Among other issues, they will determine the extent to which so-called empowerment credits can be claimed for past deals. In South Africa, black investors need to hold at least of 26 per cent of every mining company’s equity or its assets. They could also lead to the imposition of a new levy on the industry and safety rules.

South Africa has the world’s biggest reserves of platinum, significant holding of gold and is a major producer of manganese, iron ore and coal. But many companies are wary of investing further in the country because of red tape, powerful unions and spiralling power costs. This has made it less competitive than rival producer nations such as Australia and Chile.

In his address to Mining Indaba, Anglo American chief executive Mark Cutifani said the next three to four months would be the most important for mining in South Africa in 150 years.

“For investors, it goes without saying that regulatory certainty and the sanctity of private ownership under the constitution is paramount,” he added. “We need to put aside the personal conversations and attacks… in today’s world capital has no colour.”

Mr Zwane has taken a tough stance on mine safety, threatening to strip companies of their licenses if there are continued failings. His comments have unnerved many of the companies active in the country.

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