The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) will amend and relax some of its conditions in issuing mining permits to small scale miners.This is according to deputy minister of the DMR Godfrey Oliphant following the outcomes of a workshop held on 24 March to deal with illegal mining and the promotion of small scale mining in the country.
Government departments, mining companies, organised labour and other stakeholders met in Johannesburg to deliberate on this and other matters under the theme: “Combatting illegal mining and promoting small scale mining in South Africa”.
The department will facilitate access to funding from state-owned financial institutions such as the Industrial Development Corporation.
This falls in line as demand for materials such as cobalt, gold and precious stones fuel continues to grow in artisanal and small-scale mining locally and through Africa.
It is now commonly accepted that small-scale and artisanal mining has enormous potential for absorbing greater numbers of people in productive employment in South Africa and most of the countries in Africa.
There are indications that the sector can be made to operate in an environmentally, friendly and sustainable way according to the DMR.
The process of strengthening the sector should use the integrated problem solving approach so that all the issues affecting and inhibiting the development of the sector are given due attention.
The issues can be tackled under four broad categories; namely policy and legislation, institutions, support programme, research and development.
It is estimated that close to 25 million artisanal and small-scale miners currently operate globally with a further 100 million workers indirectly involved in the industry.
This dwarfs the number active in large-scale mining and presents a huge development opportunity. Unfortunately, management of the sector is currently weak and inconsistent.
Concluding his address to stakeholders Oliphant said it was the view of government that addressing illegal mining in the country should include “curtailing markets used by national, regional and international syndicates. These initiatives will undoubtedly require extensive collaborative efforts by all stakeholders,” he said.