The implementation of South Africa's controversial Mineral and Petroleum Resources Royalty Act will be delayed until March 2010.

The Act was scheduled to be implemented in May this year. But declining commodity prices and demand has threatened the very existence of many miners; it is feared that the Act could strangle the industry further, resulting in increased job losses.

Treasury proposed the implementation delay in the 2009 Budget. It estimates the delay will result in gross savings of about R1.8bn (US$180m for mining companies in 2009/10.

It is hoped that this relief will contribute to constructive dialogue between government, the mining houses and labour, resulting in practical initiatives to mitigate the impact of expected retrenchments in the sector.