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In a presentation by Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) chief director Motlatso Kobe to the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy in the National Assembly on May 23, she revealed that the vast majority of mining and prospecting rights backlogs are located in Mpumalanga.

Mpumlanga has a total of 1 584 mining permit applications in its backlog, more than of all the other provinces combined.

The province with the next highest number of mining permits awaiting approval is the Northern Cape, with 227; followed by Limpopo, which has 129 mining permit applications in waiting. In total, 2 185 mining permits are awaiting processing and approval across the country.

The same trend is apparent in most of the other categories of mining and prospecting rights applications, with Section 22 mining rights applications in Mpumalanga sitting at 58, with the next highest number being 26 in the Northern Cape, out of a total national tally of 160.

In terms of prospecting rights applications, Mpumalanga comes in second at 433, compared to 577 in the Northern Cape – both more than double that of any other province. The national total comes to 1 449.

The DMRE has long said it is committed to eradicating the backlog of mining applications across the country dating back several years. However, Kobe said an overflow of new applications were to blame for the failure of the DMRE to make any meaningful progress on the eradication of the backlog.

She added that much of the backlog came from a high number of applications in the coal mining sector of Mpumlanga.

“Mpumalanga figures are distorting the backlog due to a number of mining permits relating to coal mining. The backlog in Mpumalanga is more that other provinces combined,” Kobe said, noting that the regional office in the province would require special intervention if it is to overcome the backlog.

She noted that the Free State, Western Cape, Gauteng, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal did not have a backlog of more than 100 in any category.

She stated that DMRE resources would be shifted from the Western Cape and Free State, which, comparatively, had very small and much more manageable backlogs across all categories, to the Northern Cape to provide assistance.

She assured the committee that the backlog in its current state would be eradicated by the end of the financial year.