Here is an edited version of a report that recently appeared on the Mail & Guardian online:

The Italian owners of two granite firms are suing South Africa for €266-million (about R2,5-billion), arguing that laws which force firms to sell stakes to black investors violated international investment treaties, the investors' lawyer said on Friday. The action marks the first legal action alleging that South Africa's mining charter, which seeks to boost involvement of black people in a sector that excluded them during apartheid, amounts to expropriation.

Leon said the legal action is not challenging the overall concept of trying to make up for the injustices of apartheid, but the Italian investors bought the granite operations in 1994, after the collapse of apartheid. "Why are foreign investors, who never invested here before 1994, who never benefited from the apartheid system, why are they subject to this form of redress? I don't think that's fair."

South Africa's mining charter, implemented in 2004, transfers all mining rights to the government and demands mining firms meet a list of conditions before obtaining new mining licences. The conditions include selling 26% of local mines to black investors by 2014, increasing numbers of black managers and improving conditions in mining communities. The laws seek to make up for injustices in South Africa's mining sector, which was built on a legacy of migrant black labourers who were paid dirt-cheap wages, forced to live in sex hostels and prohibited from skilled jobs. Leon said the legal claim is based on bilateral investment treaties that promise fair and equitable treatment to all investors and allow for compensation if the government expropriates investments.

The hearing by the World Bank's International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington was expected to be held later this year.

And this one from Platinum Today, a few days after the above report.

The South African government has announced that local mining beneficiation projects can negate the 26 per cent black economic empowerment (BEE) requirement of mining firms. The announcement, from the South African Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) Deputy DG Mineral Policy and Promotion Abiel Mngomezulu, means that companies that have not reached the BEE standard required in the Mining Charter could be let off if they can show they are investing in local beneficiation projects.

Under the Mining Charter, all mining companies, including the likes of Anglo Platinum and Impala Platinum, need to ensure at least 26 per cent of their equity is held by BEE groups, in an effort to give some of the vast wealth created by mining back to the people of South Africa. However, speaking to Mining Weekly, Mr Mngomezulu suggested that companies which help to establish and develop mining beneficiation projects local to their mines could see that requirement sidelined. Minerals and Energy Minister, Buyelwa Sonjica, appeared to back Mr Mngomezulu's comments, adding: "Beneficiation of minerals is extremely significant in terms of job creation in the country - the industry has been exporting raw materials for about 100 years and overtime missed out on the extra jobs that could have been created and that is why we are now incentivising companies that beneficiate their metals."