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Illegal miners will get licences and help under a new govt plan – if they’re South African

Illegal miners will get licences and help under a new govt plan – if they're South African

Illegal miners in South Africa should get an amnesty period to “subject themselves to the process of formalisation”, a new draft government plan suggests.

They may have to form co-operatives, and will then be eligible for government support, including help in finding finance.

They’ll have to be South African, though.

The draft Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Policy provides for mining areas to be set aside, and assigned by the minerals minister, especially for non-mechanised miners. That may include underground mining.


The many illegal miners in South Africa should get an amnesty window during which

they can come forward and “subject themselves to the process of formalisation”,

says the latest version of a draft government plan.

Only should they fail to take advantage of that “transition window” will law enforcement

step in, under the draft Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Policy, published for public

comment by minerals minister Gwede Mantashe this week.

Once they have their paperwork in order, such operators will be able to expect a range of

government support, up to, and including, help in finding funding.

But foreigners need not apply; permits “must be reserved for South Africans”,

says the draft policy, and the “presence of illegal immigrants within the artisanal and

small-scale mining space must be addressed”, during the transition.

Artisanal miners would be expected to limit themselves to “rudimentary” tools, while small scale miners would use no specialised mining technologies, chemicals, or explosives. They may also be limited in terms of their capital expenditure.

Licensing individuals “will not be prohibited”,

under the plan, but co-operatives will get preference,

“due to their potential for a much wider impact to spread the economic benefits wider and ensuring sustainability through the sharing of risks.”

The individuals or groups would be largely limited to surface mining,

though underground operations are not entirely ruled out –

in part because that could be “viewed as discriminatory, exclusionary, and counterproductive”.

Such small miners could get access to areas specifically set aside for small-scale mining,

with the minerals minister deciding who gets to mine where.

They would be brought into the tax net, possibly with special treatment.

In return they would be offered support up to and including help in securing finance,

though probably not direct government grants.

They may also be the beneficiaries of a

“regulated market or a central buying agency to afford artisanal and small-scale miners

a platform to legally sell and trade their mineral products in a transparent and protected environment” –

rather than selling to syndicates and black-market buyers.