South Sudan to amend Mining Act

July 1, 2016 (JUBA) – South Sudan government has announced plans to amend the Mining Act to reduce area given to companies and relax preliminary requirements for exploration.

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Gold panners in Nanakanak, Eastern Equatoria state, South Sudan. (Source: Hannah McNeish/IRIN)

The proposal, an official said, was presented to the council of ministers, which approved it.

“The minister mining is instructed to coordinate with the minister of justice [Paulino Wanawilla] to make necessary legislation to amend the mining act and present to parliament,” information minister, Michael Makuei told reporters on Friday last week.

The Mining Act 2012, he said, gives exploration companies, large areas for exploration and place many procedures that “actual mining activities.” Makuei did not mention the size land given to mining companies or the specific procedures that impede exploration.

The mining minister, Taban Deng Gai on Thursday met President Salva Kiir on the proposed amendment to the country’s Mining Act.

“We discussed the need to invest in minerals exploration [beside oil] to booster our revenues,” Taban told state-owned SSBC after meeting the president.

However, the information minister said on Friday that the minister of finance David Deng Athorbei has been instructed to fund necessary steps required by mining ministry to expedite the amendment process. The finance docket has also been asked to facilitate farming efforts presented by the Agriculture Minister Lam Akol Ajawin on Friday.

South Sudan, which relies on oil revenue for more than 90% of national income, is diversifying its economy in the light of lowering global oil prices.

Amending the country’s Mining Act would require justice ministry to table amendment bill in parliament. But the National Legislative Assembly, which is supposed to be expanded to 400 from the current 335 MPs in accordance to the peace agreement, is not yet constituted due to disagreement over selection of the speaker for Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA).

(ST)

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