South Africa’s Chamber of Mines has approached Pretoria's high court seeking an injunction against the Department of Mineral Resources' (DMR) proposed moratorium on mining leases and licences in the country. 

The move comes after South Africa Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane called for written representations from the public on the government’s proposed move to prohibit granting and processing of any new applications for mining rights, alongside renewal of rights.

In the court application, the industry body sought to quash the department’s notice and prevent the minister from going ahead with the proposed moratorium.

Proceedings in the case will be conducted on 4 August, which is also the last date for public responses to the minister’s notice. 

"We are of the view that such a moratorium will negatively affect our members through job losses."

The industry body claims that the minister's decision is a violation of the constitution and overreach of his mandated powers. It is requesting the court to declare null and void the moratorium on the grounds of Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA) or the constitutional principle of legality.

South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was quoted by media sources as saying: "We are of the view that such a moratorium will negatively affect our members through job losses, since there will be no Section 11 approvals taking on change of ownership and new mining or prospecting rights."

Last month, the Chamber of Mines filed a petition against DMR’s new mining charter that requires companies operating in the country to increase black ownership of mines from the existing 26% to 30%, in addition to other provisions to repair perceived post-apartheid injustices to the community. 

Recently, Zwane and the Chamber of Mines agreed to temporarily suspend implementing the charter until the case has been decided in the court of law, with the hearing date set for September.