Section 54 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA)
If prospecting right holders are continuously denied access to the land in question, they may subsequently rely on section 54 of the MPRDA.
Section 54 of the MPRDA provides that the holder of the prospecting right must notify the relevant Regional Manager if that holder is prevented from commencing or conducting any prospecting operations because the owner or the lawful occupier of the land in question refuses to allow such holder to enter the land; places unreasonable demands in return for access to the land; or cannot be found in order to apply for access.
Thereafter, the Regional Manager must, within 14 days from the date of the notice, call upon the owner or lawful occupier of the land to make representations regarding the issues raised by the holder of the prospecting right, inform that owner or occupier of the rights of the holder, set out the provisions of the MPRDA which such owner or occupier is contravening and inform that owner or occupier of the steps which may be taken, should he or she persist in contravening the provisions.
If the Regional Manager, after having considered the issues raised by the holder and any written representations by the owner or the lawful occupier of the land, concludes that the owner or occupier has suffered or is likely to suffer loss or damage as a result of the prospecting operations, he or she must request the parties concerned to endeavour to reach an agreement for the payment of compensation for such loss or damage. This section purports that before the holder may bring any machinery or equipment onto the land, he or she must try by all means to reach an agreement on the surface use of the prospecting area. Landowners however, cannot use this as a sword to make unreasonable demands in return for access to the land, but rather as a shield to protect them from any loss or damage which may occur.
If the parties fail to reach an agreement, compensation must be determined by arbitration in accordance with the Arbitration Act no. 42 of 1965, or by a competent court. Ideally, parties should rather exhaust all internal remedies before approaching the courts.