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Start-up miners are ‘not zama zamas’

Jun 10 2018 09:04
Lesetja Malope

Regulatory uncertainty and a lack of transparency are the biggest challenges facing start-ups in the mining industry.

This is according to the chairperson of the Junior Mining Indaba, Bernard Swanepoel, who was speaking on the sidelines of the gathering earlier this week.

“There’s no transparency. I think the largest issue facing junior players is that many feel as if there’s too much corruption and inefficiency in the system. This is my personal opinion of a long list of issues.

“If we had a transparent system and you didn’t have to bribe anybody to get a right or retain a right, and it happened quickly, I think we would do better,” he said.

Swanepoel said Deputy Mineral Resources Minister Godfrey Oliphant spoke to the junior miners at the event as if they were illegal miners – zama zamas.

Oliphant delivered the opening address at the event.

“The deputy minister spoke to us as if we are zama zamas. We are not zama zamas and they are not even represented here. I refer to them as the wannabe miners,” Swanepoel said.

Oliphant said that a group of former zama zamas were issued two mining permits in April and had successfully negotiated a tailings mining resource from Ekapa Mining in Kimberley, and now have access to 500ha of diamondiferous ground to mine for themselves. The move, he said, was part of the department’s efforts to bring zama zamas into legal mining in places where it was safe to do so.

Swanepoel pointed out that junior miners were in a peculiar position in that some felt the Minerals Council SA (formerly the Chamber of Mines) did not represent their interests adequately.

“The deputy minister addressed the issue of zama zamas and we are not that audience. I do think it’s a very difficult relationship to have because the chamber does try its best to put the interests of junior miners forward, and some people feel comfortable there, but many more don’t feel the chamber can put their case forward successfully,” he said.

Most attendees at the indaba felt sidelined – as if they did not belong anywhere, Swanepoel said. 

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