Social and Labour Plans: What do the new amendments mean for new and existing South African mines?

The Minister of the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) published a Notice, No GN R420 of 27 March 2020, bringing into effect amendments to the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Regulations, as published in GN R527 in GG 26275 dated 23 April 2004. These amended Regulations call for meaningful stakeholder engagement with the relevant stakeholders and emphasises the need to make the Social and Labour Plans (SLP) available for public review. This is because the intended beneficiaries need to be afforded an opportunity to participate, review and provide their comments/input on the design and implementation of the SLP. The SLP documents need to be designed and implemented in accordance with the newly amended Regulations.

The development of an SLP for a new mining right application needs to follow a specific process which includes the collection and interpretation of relevant information via a literature review and a stakeholder engagement process, which is then used to develop a relevant and site specific SLP. This SLP must undergo a rigorous public and stakeholder engagement processes, where all relevant comments and concerns can be raised and addressed. Once all of the comments and concerns have been addressed and the required comments have been included into the updated report, it can be submitted to the DMRE for its approval. Once the approved document is available it needs to be presented to all relevant stakeholders and interested and affected parties (I&APs).

The amended MPRDA Regulations emphasise the need for ongoing stakeholder consultation for the development and implementation of the SLP. A meaningful consultation process should be:

  • Inclusive and culturally appropriate.
  • Considerate of the needs of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.
  • Responsive to community concerns and grievances.
  • Fed into the decision-making process including proposed mitigation, sharing of benefits and opportunities.
  • Conducted in the language preferred by the affected communities/I&APs.
  • Easily understood and transparent.

It should be noted that “Meaningful consultation” is required with mine communities and I&APs, which, following the amendments, include major labour sending areas, land claimants and civil society generally.

Once the SLP has been implemented, Regulation 45 of the amended MPRDA Regulations, states that the holder of the mining right must submit an annual report on the compliance with the approved SLP to the relevant Regional Manager. The holder of a mining right must convene a minimum of three meetings per annum with the mine communities and I&APs, with the wide definition above. The purpose of these meetings is to update stakeholders about the progress made with the implementation of the approved SLP. Comments/concerns received during these meetings must form part of the annual compliance report submitted to the DMRE.

It is vital that stakeholder comments/ concerns are considered in the implementation of the SLP and the compilation of the annual compliance reports. The successful attainment of the SLP’s objectives will place a Mine in favourable terms with its immediate community, provided the SLP objectives are aligned with the community’s expectations and development requirements. Once the SLP has been approved it is important to ensure compliance with this document. This includes the continued analysis of the SLP and its implementation. It is important to understand the real impact both the SLP and the mine has on the community.

A stringent review process will help develop a report which illustrate the impact the SLP has on the community. Consultations and stakeholder engagement on the findings of this review need to be conducted and all comments and concerns need to be noted and addressed. By doing this any short comings and concerns can be identified and addressed. An updated report which addresses issues then needs to be drafted and presented to the mining right holder and submitted to the DMRE. Once again, continued stakeholder engagement and public participation is of crucial importance throughout the entire process. This helps cement the mining rights holder’s social licence to operate and promotes an inclusive process.

  • The approved SLP must be reviewed every 5 years from the date of its approval;
  • During the review process of the approved SLP, the Minister must consider the following aspects:
    • The extent of the Mining Right holder’s compliance with the approved SLP;
    • Assessment of the annual reports submitted;
    • Comments/concerns/input and reports from the mining right holder, mine community and I≈
    • Changing nature of the relevant needs of the mine community as per the local Integrated Development Programme;

An approved and accurate SLP is of crucial importance to ensure that the mining activity will not negatively impact the surrounding communities, Stakeholders, and Interested and Affected parties. An additional benefit is that it will promote a positive social environment and help develop a valid social licence to operate.

Kongiwe is able to assist with all aspects of the SLP, from its drafting, to the consultation process and to its periodic review. For further information please contact info@kongiwe.co.za

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