South African mineral law: a historical overview of the state’s regulatory power regarding the exploitation of minerals.

24 August 2012

The Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act 28 of 2002 [MPRDA] acknowledges that the country’s mineral resources belong to the nation. The State is subsequently appointed as custodian of these resources. As custodian the State has the ultimate responsibility to grant, issue, control, administer and manage all rights in minerals. As a consequence of this wide regulatory authority a landowner’s right to deal with the minerals imbedded in the soil of his property has completely been annihilated. This article gives an historical overview of the State’s regulatory power regarding the exploitation of the country’s minerals to determine the extent to which the State has, in the past, took upon itself the power to decide where, when and by whom the country’s mineral riches could be mined. A historical perspective of the extent of the State’s regulatory powers regarding the exploitation of minerals might be beneficial when the provisions of the MPRDA are interpreted.