The CGS operates under three types of mandate, some of which are fixed and others that are variable. The principal fixed mandate and the one under which the CGS was established is the Geoscience Act, Act 100 of 1993. It is also listed as a schedule 3A Public Entity in terms of the Public Finance Management Act, Act 1 of 1999. The objectives underlying the establishment of the CGS are to develop and publish world-class geoscience knowledge products and to render geoscience-related services to the South African public and industry. The mandate of the CGS, as defined in the above Act includes:
- The systematic reconnaissance and documentation of the geology of the earth’s surface and continental crust, including all offshore areas within the territorial boundaries of South Africa.
- The compilation of all geoscience data and information, particularly the geological, geophysical, geochemical and engineering-geological data in the form of maps and documents, which are placed in the public domain.
- Basic geoscience research into the nature and origin of rocks, ores, minerals, formations, the history and evolution of life and the formation of the earth with a view to understanding the geological processes of both the past and present and to compile and publish such research findings nationally and internationally to contribute to the understanding of the earth, its evolution and its resources.
- The collection and curation of all geoscience data and knowledge on South Africa in the National Geoscience Repository. This repository houses a large and growing collection of geoscience information on all the countries of the African continent. This information also includes data that were received from mining companies, universities and research institutions worldwide. Public access to all geoscience information is subject to existing legislation, arranged through the mandate of the CGS.
- The rendering of geoscience knowledge services and advice to the State to enable informed and scientifically based decisions on the use of the earth’s surface and the earth’s resources, within the territory of South Africa.
- The management of a number of national geoscience facilities on behalf of the country. These include the National Seismograph Network, the National Borehole-Core Repository, the National Geoscience Heritage Collections (Geoscience Museum), and the National Geoscience Library. As part of its seismological monitoring function, the CGS contributes to the verification of global compliance to the ban on underground, underwater and upper atmospheric nuclear explosions in terms of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), by making data available from stations located on South African territory.
- The rendering of commercial geoscience services and products to national and international clients.
The second fixed mandate under which the CGS operates forms part of the National System of Innovation as stated in ‘South Africa’s National Research and Development Strategy’ of 2002 as defined in the White Paper on Science and Technology of 1996 where the Department of Science and Technology plays an integrative role in regulating science and technology across all State-owned research organisations.
The third and variable mandate that the CGS operates under is that expressed in the speeches and addresses made by, for example, the President of South Africa in his State of the Nation address and the various budget-vote speeches made by the Ministers of Minerals and Energy, and of Science and Technology.