The Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (Minerals Act) came into effect on 1 May 2004 and vests the right to prospect and mine in the State. The new law sees a profound change in property rights in SA's mining sector, replacing private ownership of mineral rights with public ownership and requiring mining companies to convert their old-order rights to new-order rights within 5 years. To convert, companies will have to comply with the empowerment provisions of the mining charter.
These rights are to be administered by the government of South Africa in order to:
Promote equitable access to the nation’s mineral resources by all South Africans,
Expand opportunities for historically disadvantaged persons, who wish to participate in the South African mining industry,
Promote employment and advance the social and economic welfare of mining communities and the major labour sending areas; and
Promote beneficiation of South Africa's mineral commodities.