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Understanding the needs of artisanal gold mining communities

Exclusive interview with Christopher Higgins, International Business Manager at Minelab Metal Detectors, a returning bronze sponsor at the upcoming Nigeria Mining Week in Abuja in October.

Let’s start with some background on Minelab and your work in the mining sector?

Minelab MEA General Trading LLC, is a Dubai based company that distributes handheld metal detectors to artisanal gold mining communities throughout Africa & the Middle East for our parent company, Minelab Electronics Pty Limited (Minelab).

Taking an active approach in Nigeria

Minelab is an Australian company that is recognised as the world’s leading developer and manufacturer of metal detectors for artisanal gold mining.

Minelab has been supplying metal detectors in Africa for over 15 years and we have a close understanding of the needs of artisanal gold mining communities throughout the continent.

We have built a strong group of distributors and dealers, who support our end users with training and after sales support. Our own Business Development Managers and technical staff travel regularly to the region to support our distributors and dealers, and build their capacity to support our end users.

Metal detectors enable artisanal miners to find gold more effectively and efficiently, while reducing the impact of mining activities on the environment, as there is no requirement for the use of harmful substances such as cyanide and mercury.

Mining with detectors is generally done on the surface, which means that there is less impact through excavation and less risk to the miners themselves.

We witness the positive impact of our products on the livelihoods and well-being of artisanal mining communities in most of the locations that we operate in.

Any projects that you are involved in in Nigeria that you are particularly excited about at the moment?

We recently learned about the World Bank financed project to support Nigeria’s mining sector and we are interested to explore how we might get productively involved. We note that a large component of the project will comprise supporting artisanal mining communities by increasing their access to technology. This is an area in which we believe we can play a meaningful role.

What in your view are the challenges to taking the mining sector in Nigeria to the next level?

The education of artisanal miners about the dangers and environmentally impact of using cyanide and mercury.

What is your vision for the mining sector in Nigeria?

To help change local communities fortunes with our market leading technology.

You are a returning bronze sponsor for the upcoming Nigeria Mining Week. How important is this event to showcase the country’s mining potential?

This is a wonderful opportunity for the Nigeria’s mining sector to show the world that it is ready for major development and that you will see your return on investment.

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What will be your message at the event?

That Minelab, with its innovative technologies, is an important resource to artisanal gold miners for the recovery of gold in a cost effective way also reducing the impact on the environment and importantly reducing the risk to the miners own health and safety.

Anything you would like to add?

We are looking for local partners so please come and visit us at our stand and see how technologies and products will allow Miners explore every meter of Nigeria and discover the gold that lies beneath.

Annemarie Roodbolhttp://www.miningreview.com
Annemarie Roodbol is a communications practitioner based in Cape Town.