The National, Thursday, April 28, 2011
TO develop a landowner identification system will take a long process but once developed the system will be incorporated into the reviewed Mining Act.
For the mining industry, this would mean prospective mining companies and the state would recognise customary landowners that are duly identified by their clans and represented through the umbrella landowner association.
This was said during the regional consultation forum for the Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazard Management for the reviewing of the Mineral Policy and the Mining Act 1992 and various other laws governing mining in the country.
The various stakeholders attending the Southern region forum last week, also raised the question of proper social mapping to be carried out by trained persons, such as anthropologists, who understood the intricate family relations and thus could identify the rightful owners for particular sections of land within exploration licences and mining lease areas.
The forum found that the issue of landowner identification was a sensitive issue and needed to be handled with care and respect for the cultural settings of individual communities.
According to a summary of the predominant issues from the regions, it was suggested that the state should also conduct proper socio-impact studies and assessment to establish a database before the commencement of any mining project.
This should be done prior to any mining leases being granted or issued and the rights of all citizens to a fair and just compensation must be acknowledged.
Director of mineral policy and legislation Harry Kore said currently, the issue of landowner identification was not in the Mining Act 1992 but had practised as a matter of policy and good governance.
However the review would provide for landowner identification similar to what is in the Oil and Gas Act 1998.
He said the intention of the review was to develop a user-friendly legislation that would be practical locally but also competitive globally.
The mineral policy review would provide for the distributions of benefits and such other predominant issues identified during the regional consultation forums.
It is expected that the review will address many of the issues which are currently predominant in the mining industry but some were subject to proper studies and assessments and will be dealt with over time.
The forums for the country’s four regions began on April 12 -21, and in which many interesting issues were raised amongst them was the question of real benefits to the people.