Cape Town – The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) is working to legalise illegal miners, according to Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources Godfrey Oliphant.
He was delivering the closing address at the 2018 African Mining Indaba on Thursday.
“The only way to combat illegal mining is to legalise it,” he said.
He spoke of how the department was engaging with illegal diamond miners at Ekapa Mining Company, based in Kimberley, to get the zama-zamas licensed. In a statement issued by the DMR on January 25 2018, it explains that there has been increasing illegal mining activities in Kimberley for the past eight years.
“Ekapa Mining, which operates De Beers’ historic mining areas, is mostly affected by these illegal activities, resulting in the company seeking legal action to evict illegal miners from Ekapa’s mining right areas,” the statement read.
In his address Oliphant explained the DMR engaged with Ekapa not to evict the miners and the miners have been granted 400ha of land, provided that the department give the miners licences. Oliphant said that a lot of progress has been made in this regard.
Oliphant explained that illegal miners are exploited. He recalled an incident where zama-zamas found a 55 Carat diamond, which they sold for R6m. The person who bought the diamond then sold it for R33m.
“If they [illegal miners] had been licensed properly, they would have taken the stone to a tender house and they would have got their money,” he explained.
This is why the department wants to help get the miners licensed, he said.
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