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Small-scale surface miners faced with housing challenges

Surface mining association, ASPASA, has called for further engagement with the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s (DMRE) following the release of its draft review of living and housing conditions that will require mines to provide suitable housing for mine workers.

ASPASA membership, however, comprises mostly smaller mines with turnovers of between R2 million and R150 million that are challenged by their financial position with housing demands.

Many are also new operations that are founded within the boundaries of towns and cities and therefore obtain workforces from within the surrounding areas.

Furthermore, the very materials being mined, such as sand and aggregates, are critical for the further development of the town or city where the mine or quarry is situated.

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“We understand the requirement of the DMRE and have thanked its drafting team for giving us the opportunity to comment.

Although our sector represents a large part of the overall mining community, the average size of our mines is small and mostly comprises a team of between 3 and 50 employees.

“The products mined range from aggregate, dimension stone, clay, limestone, granite and salt, which are mostly used in the construction industry.

Read: Borrow pits will kill the quarrying industry says ASPASA

“Due to the small scale of business, surface mines follow infrastructure development and are fairly new – so do not have hostels. Those who did have demolished them by 2014 as per Mining Charter II targets.”

The association suggests that based on this information and a housing survey done on the type of dwelling employees live in, the smaller surface mining industry cannot build towns or villages as it will be too great a burden on the operations who don’t have the funds to do this.

Furthermore, the exemption of the South African National Roads Agency by the DMRE from several significant sections of the Mining and Petroleum Resources Development Act in respect of removing minerals for construction and maintenance of dams, roads and railway lines.

Read: Surface miners can benefit from industry representation

This has put enormous pressure on the sector having to comply with a part of legislation, but are competing with a government company that does not comply.

“The unfair competition that is having to be dealt with by the private sector is astonishing,” says Nico Pienaar from ASPASA.