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Italy claims SA in breach of treaty

Business Day, South Africa, 23 March 2005

Italy claims SA in breach of treaty

Linda Ensor
Political Correspondent

CAPE TOWN - The minerals and energy department is engaged in talks with Italian companies operating in SA over possible breaches of the SA-Italy bilateral investment treaty in the implementation of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act.

Minerals and Energy Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said in a written reply to a question in Parliament that the complaints - raised in a position paper received from the Italian embassy in August last year - related to the expropriation of mineral rights and the mining charter.

Italy is a minor, but growing, trade partner.

It rose in place last year to become the 24th largest buyer of South African agricultural imports, worth a total R28,5m, up from 38th the year before, trade and industry department figures show.

The act, implemented in May last year, transformed the mineral rights regime in the country, vesting ownership of all rights with the state and requiring mining companies to convert their old-order rights into new-order rights.

Mlambo-Ngcuka also said in her reply to Democratic Alliance MP Hendrik Schmidt that her department would engage with foreign affairs officials on the matter.

In reply to another question, Mlambo-Ngcuka said the department had received more than 3000 notices to institute legal proceedings under the Institution of Legal Proceedings Against Certain Organs of State Act.

The notices were lodged within the stipulated six-month period to reserve the rights by various companies that feared the consequences of the implementation of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act.

“The department is currently in the process of capturing and processing the information contained in the notices received,” she said.

 source: Business Day