Premier focuses on mining crisis

2016-02-24 06:00
EVERY member of the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature adhered to the rule of respect to the national anthem just before the speaker, Kenny Mmoiemeng, called premier Sylvia Lucas to start with the state of the province address (Sopa). Photos: Boipelo Mere

EVERY member of the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature adhered to the rule of respect to the national anthem just before the speaker, Kenny Mmoiemeng, called premier Sylvia Lucas to start with the state of the province address (Sopa). Photos: Boipelo Mere

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DURING the Northern Cape’s state of the province address, premier Sylvia Lucas dedicated much time to the volatile mining sector.

The mining sector is threatening to shed more than 5 000 jobs in both the diamond and iron ore mines.

However, according to Lucas, there is good news, as Vedanta has committed substantial investment to the long awaited Gamsberg zinc project.

“Since the announcement of the project, the next critical milestone at Gamsberg was achieved last year July, when Vedanta broke ground on the project. In a time that brings uncertainty to the mining industry, pre-development work is in full swing with about 300 workers on site of which more than 150 are from the Northern Cape”, she said.

Lucas said the project is expected to generate approximately 500 permanent jobs, with the potential to create a further 1 500 temporary jobs during the construction phase.

Apart from the Vedanta zinc project, the premier mentioned that West Coast Resources, a diamond mining company with operations in the Namaqualand region, are in full start-up phase.

“To date, West Coast Resources has created a total of 220 jobs, 146 of which are permanent and 74 temporary. In the longer period the company plans to create approximately 550 jobs, directly and indirectly by 2021,” she said.

Lucas also mentioned that as part of moving towards rapid economic transformation in the tiger eye mining industry, the province, in conjunction with the Department of Mineral Resources, are collaborating to make the necessary intervention to harness the worth of this commodity and further position it to make it commercially viable.

The gemstone, tiger eye, is mostly found on communal land owned by the municipalities of Prieska, Niekerkshoop, Marydale and Griekwastad and in private land owned by farmers in those areas. This commodity, like others in the province, has over the past decade been exported in large quantity mostly to China.

The premier listed the following strides: The formation of five primary co-operatives in Prieska, which will belong to a secondary co-operative CBZ Tiger’s Eye and the assistance of miners operating in privately owned land to acquire the necessary mining license, and the formation of another secondary co-operative by the primary co-operatives in Niekerkshoop.

According to Lucas, Prieska Loxion Hub has been established and is utilising tiger’s eye for stone cutting products and jewellery manufacturing.

She said the Kimberley Diamond and Jewellery Incubation Centre, that was launched in December last year, is adding value to the Northern Cape’s mineral wealth.

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