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De Jure Law Journal

On-line version ISSN 2225-7160
Print version ISSN 1466-3597

De Jure (Pretoria) vol.44 n.1 Pretoria  2011




Host communities and competing applications for prospecting rights in terms of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act 28 of 2002


Gasheer gemeenskappe en mededingende aansoeke vir prospekteerregte ingevolge die "Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act" 28 of 2002



PJ BadenhorstI; NJJ OlivierII

IBLC LLD LLM LLM Associate Professor of Law, Deakin University Visiting Professor, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
IIBA MA LLD LLD BA (Hon) B Phil BA (Hons) Professor of Law, University of Pretoria




Die verskillende bepalings van die "Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act" 28 of 2002 ("die wet") omtrent die toekenning van gewone prospekteerregte of 'n preferente regte om te prospekeer word in hierdie bydrae bespreek. 'n Gewone prospekteerreg word deur die Minister, by aansoek aan 'n applikant, toegeken indien aan die vereistes van artikel 17 van die Wet voldoen word. Artikel 104(1) van die Wet daarenteen maak voorsiening vir die aansoek deur en toekenning van 'n preferente propekteerreg aan 'n tradisionele gemeenskap (soos omskryf in die wet) om op gemeenskapgrond te prospekteer. Hierdie bepalings het die grondslag gevorm van 'n ongeraporteerde beslissing van die Transvaalse Afdeling van die Hooggeregshof in Bengwenyama Minerals (Pty) Ltd v Genorah Resources (Pty) Ltd (39808/2007 (TPD) (18-11-2008) Die beslissing het gehandel het oor die bepaling van regsvoorkeur by mededingende prospekteeraansoeke wat na mekaar ten aansien van die Bengwenyama tradisionele gemeenskaps-grond ingedien is. 'n Poging is in die saak aangewend om ex post facto die een prospekteeraansoek in te klee as 'n aansoek vir 'n preferente prospekteerreg deur die tradisionele gemeneenskap. Daar word geargumeenteer dat die hof se beslissing rakende die verskil en verhouding tussen die twee soorte prospekteerregte en die toepassing van die "first come, first served principle" ingevolge artikel 9(1)(b) Wet juis was. Daar word voorts aangevoer dat die feite van die Bengwenyama Minerals beslissing die tekortkoming van die huidige artikel 104 van die Wet, om die belange van 'n tradisionele gemeenskap te beskerm, aantoon indien iemand anders aansoek doen vir 'n gewone propekteerreg. Daar word ook uitgewys dat die voorgestelde 2008 wysigings van die Wet ook nie ver genoeg strek om deelname in prospektering en benutting van mineraalbronne deur 'n tradisionele gemeenskap te verseker nie. Die slotsom word bereik dat die huidige wetgewing dringend gewysig behoort te word om die belange van tradisionele gemeenskappe te beskerm.She is sitting there and smiling, especially at those who are 'more disadvantaged than others' (staring with rusted pans in their hands from shacks on the riverbanks). The Kliptonian transfer of mineral wealth to the people remains the biggest myth of them all.1



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1 From the sketch of the "Bridge on the river kwaito" in 2002 Obiter250 280.
2 The term 'preferent right' is used in the MPRDA. Unless we quote from the statute or decision, the term 'preferential right' will rather be used.
3 39808/2007 (TPD) (Unreported 18-11-2008).
4 2010 3 All SA 577 (SCA) 29.
5 2010 ZACC 26.
6 See Badenhorst "Mineral Rights: 'Year Zero' cometh?" 2000 Obiter 119.         [ Links ]
7 S 3(2).
8 S 5(1).
9 See, in general, Badenhorst "Nature of New Order Rights to Minerals: a Rubikian exercise since passing the Mayday Rubicon with a Cubic Circonium" 2005 Obiter 505.         [ Links ]
10 s 9(1)(a).
11 s 9(2). The category of "historically disadvantaged persons" is defined in s 1 MPRDA and is (a) a person(s) or community disadvantaged by unfair discrimination before the present Constitution took effect; (b) an association of which the majority of its members are historically disadvantaged persons; or (c) a juristic person owned or controlled by historically disadvantaged persons. The deemed simultaneous receipt of applications by the Regional Manager is therefore tempered by s 9(2) which compels the Minister, when considering applications, to give preference to an application (included in the batch of "simultaneous applications") from an historically disadvantaged person.
12 Dale et alSouth African Mineral and Petroleum Lawpar 112.4. Applications which simultaneously comply with the initial requirements in Western Australia are resolved by resorting to a ballot system (see a 105A(3) of the Mining Act 1978). These so-called 'same time applications' happen if applications are lodged by mail or by courier delivery and two or more applications for the same land are by the same post or courier delivery (Hunt Mining Law in Western Australia (2009) 264). In Hot Holdings v Creasy(unreported WASC FC 27 September 1996 (cited by Hunt 264)) the Western Australian Supreme Court decided that the words "at the same time" do not mean "at precisely the same millisecond".
13 S 1 of the MPRDA defines "prospecting rights" as follows: "the right to prospect granted in terms of s 17 (1)". (All further references in this article to a "prospecting right" would be to such a prospecting right as applied for in the normal course of events).
14 S 17(6).
15 S 103(1) of the MPRDA; Delegation of Powers by the Minister of Minerals and Energy to Officers in the Department of Minerals and Energy of 12 May 2004. As to the delegation of powers in the MPRDA, see Badenhorst and Mostert Mineral and Petroleum Law of South Africa (2004) (Revision service 6) chapter 2.2.5.
16 Dale et al par 489.2. (This preferential right to prospect in terms of the s 104 of the MPRDA will hereafter be referred as a preferential prospecting right in contradistinction from an ordinary prospecting right in 2.1 above).
17 S 104(3)(a).
18 S 104(3)(b).
19 S 104(4).
20 39808/2007 (TPD) (Unreported 18-11-2008).
21 "Host communities and mining projects in South Africa: Towards an equitable mineral regulation" 2009 Obiter 120.
22 See Badenhorst "Saving the pieces of the mineral law system: keeping the baby and the bathwater" 2003 Obiter46; Badenhorst and Mostert Mineral and Petroleum Law chapter 23.4.
23 See par 3 2 of this article.
24 Par 2.
25 Par 6.3.
26 Par 6.4.
27 Par 6.8.
28 Par 6.9.
29 Par 6.10.
30 Par 6.12.
31 Par 6.1. It seems as though this recommendation did not have a bearing on the outcome of the case.
32 Par 6.6.
33 Par 6.7.
34 Par 6.13.
35 S 47 deals with the Minister's power to suspend or cancel rights, permits and permissions.
36 Par 6.15.
37 Par 6.16.
38 Par 1.
39 Par 4.
40 Par 5.2
41 Par 5.4.
42 Par 5.3.
43 Par 4.
44 Par 4.
45 The issues between the parties related to amongst others: the authority of the officials who took the decision and awarded the right; the consultation requirements of the MPRDA; the environmental requirements of the MPRDA, and the provisions in the Promotion of Access to Information Act 3 of 2000 regarding the time period applicable to reviews (see par. 5).
46 Par 7.
47 Par 6.2.
48 Par 8.
49 Par 9.
50 Paras 8 and 10.
51 Paras 9 and 10.
52 The requirements are set out in part 1 above and in paras 8 and 9 of the decision.
53 Par 10.
54 Par 10.
55 Ss 17(6) and 18(4). S 17 deals with the granting and duration of prospecting rights and s 18 deals with the application for renewal of prospecting rights.
56 S 104(3)(a). In par 9 the court states that the maximum period of renewal is five years ("can be renewed for a further maximum period of five years"). The court did not explicitly pronounce whether s 104(3) provides for successive renewal periods of a maximum of five years each, or only for a renewal or renewals that, in total, do not exceed five years.
57 Par 10.
58 Par 10.
59 Par 29.
60 Par 10.
61 Par 10.
62 Par 11.
63 Par 11.
64 Par 11.
65 Par 11.
66 Pars 12-13.
67 Par 13. See also par 49.1.
68 Pars 27 and 35.
69 Pars 27 and 37.
70 Pars 27 and 37.
71 Par 28.
72 Par 28.
73 Par 30.
74 The court's reference to ecology is unfortunate. It would be impossible to "protect the ecology" in the strict sense of the word.
75 Par 35.
76 Par 36.
77 Par 36.
78 Par 36.
79 Par 36.
80 Par 37.
81 Par 37.
82 Par 38.
83 Par 39.
84 Par 47.
85 Pars 41-46.
86 Par 46.
87 Par 47.
88 Par 49.1.
89 Par 48.
90 Par 50.
91 Par 49.
92 [2010] 3 All SA 577 (SCA) 29.
93 Paras 15, 16, 18 and 34.
94 Par 13.
95 Dale et al par 489.
96 Dale et al par 489.
97 See in general Badenhorst and Du Toit "The Mineral Development Draft Bill, 2000 and the Environment" 2002 Stell LR 22 48-49. A more recent example of the Department treating a mining company in the words of George Orwell as "more equal than others" can be mentioned in passing. The Minister has in terms of s 106(1) MPRDA exempted the state owned African Exploration Mining Finance Corporation from the provisions of applying for a: (a) prospecting right, (b) right to remove minerals, (c) mining right or (d) mining permit (ss 16, 20, 22 and 27 respectively). (GN 1081 Government Gazette 31485 of 2008-10-10). This has led to an outcry by the organised mining industry as being a negation of the principle of equality before the law (Creamer "South Africa's State mining company gazetting 'concerning'-Chamber" ( (accessed on 2009-11-18)) and withdrawal of the exemption by the department (GN 1081 in GG 34115 of 2011-03-14). The exemption also seems ultra viresthe powers of the Minister in terms of s 106(1) MPRDA insofar as exemptions of state organs from compliance with application requirements are intended for such organs being involved in building of roads or construction of dams (and purposes related to such activities) but not the mining industry.
98 S 106(2). See the 2008 Amendment Act which, after commencement, will substitute the current s 106(2) MPRDA with the following:
99 The term "community" is amended and defined in s 1 of the Amendment Act.
100 "... where as a consequence of the provisions of this act, negotiations or consultations with the community is required, the community shall include the members or part of the community directly affect (sic) by mining on land occupied by such members or part of the community".
101 S 8(6)(C).
102 S 3(2)(B).
103 S 3(2)(C).
104 S 4(1).
105 S 4(1)(L).
106 S 11 read with ss 19 and 20.
107 S 18(3).
108 S 18(1).
109 S 26(1A) of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth); Butt Land Law(2010) 1020; Gray et al Property Law in New South Wales (2007) 178.
110 The government is also included as a negotiating party.
111 S 31(2). Butt 1025.
112 S 35(1). Butt 1025.
113 S 74 of the Amendment Act; S 16 and 22 respectively deal with applications for prospecting rights mining rights.
114 See s 17.
115 S 74 of the Amendment Act. See s 23.
116 Ss 13(f) and 19(c) of the Amendment Act respectively.
117 South African Mineral and Petroleum Law par 489.

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