Mine breaks new ground

2018-06-13 06:02
History was made when members of Artisanal Miners Kimberley (AMK) filled the Mayibuye Centre to receive mining permits to the Batho Pele Mining Primary Cooperative (PPMPC) and Goedemoed (GMPC) on Thursday (07/06) from Ekapa Mining.Photo: Boipelo Mere

History was made when members of Artisanal Miners Kimberley (AMK) filled the Mayibuye Centre to receive mining permits to the Batho Pele Mining Primary Cooperative (PPMPC) and Goedemoed (GMPC) on Thursday (07/06) from Ekapa Mining.Photo: Boipelo Mere

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A zama-zama recently picked up a 55 carat diamond and sold it for R6 million. That buyer sold it in an open tender for R33 million.

This story was shared by Godfrey Oliphant, deputy minister of Mineral Resources.

He addressed the thousands of members of Artisanal Miners Kimberley (AMK) who filled the Mayibuye Centre to receive two mining permits to the Batho Pele Mining Primary Cooperative (BPMPC) and the Goedemoed Mining Primary Cooperative (GMPC) on Thursday (07/06).

The stakeholders also signed a legal diamond trading agreement.

Congratulating the miners, Oliphant emphasised “the wealth of this country that shall be shared”.

He told the miners that the agreements signed, including the permits, would allow them to sell their diamonds anywhere they prefer.

The miners, previously referred to as zama-zamas, honoured the historical day, which also marked their success in negotiating a Tailings Mining Resource (TMR) at Ekapa Mining.

They were given access to 600 ha of ground to mine for themselves, and R50 000 in cash as a start-up for their operations.

The ceremony followed tension and violent confrontations between Ekapa Mining and the miners in 2017 over trespassing.

Consultations followed, led by the legal team of the Office of the Premier, Ekapa Mining, the Sol Plaatje Municipality, the Swedish Housing Company, the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) and the miners.

The agreement was signed by all relevant stakeholders, including the Kimberley Artisanal Small Scale Miners, Ekapa Mining, the DMR and the Sol Plaatje Municipality.

They requested Mangaliso Matika, Sol Plaatje mayor, for an office from which they can operate and boost the economy.

Elaborating on their journey towards the success of this day, Lucky Seekoei, chairperson of the AMK committee, talked about how blood had been spilled in their efforts to get access to legally mining on that land.

“When I left home, I was a hobo and did not even have a bed, a car or even a cellphone.

“But today I have a cellphone like other men, a car and even a house. That is all thanks to Samaria, where I could mine those diamonds,” said Seekoei to the jubilant miners.

“We are tired of putting our money under mattresses and carpets whenever we have sold a diamond.

“We are privileged to work in a legal manner.

“We will therefore also be able to contribute to this economy through paying tax, just like Ekapa Mine.”

In an effort to boost the Northern Cape economy, Seekoei called for a faculty of diamond polishing to be opened at the Sol Plaatje University.

“If the Sol Plaatje University fails to open the faculty, then it will mean that there is a problem in this province. We want that faculty,” emphasised Seekoei.

The miners made another plea for Ekapa Mining to allocate them more land to mine on the stretch to Greenpoint, to avoid overcrowding.

Seekoei condemned greediness, and said the struggle for land does not know colour, only the tendencies of greed wherein people sideline each other.

Northern Cape Premier Sylvia Lucas said the momentous achievement was one of its kind, not only in South Africa, but in the world.

“It does not only speak to the transformation in the mining industry, but improves the lives of those living in abject poverty and by legalising small-scale mining, artisanal miners are able to provide for their families and grow the economy,” said Lucas.

She echoed the words of John Hohne, chief executive officer of Ekapa Mining.

“This is a milestone and not a destination yet.

“Remember that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

Lucas conveyed her support and the continuous guidance of her office, especially the legal services unit, to ensure that artisanal miners comply with the legal instruments in the mining sector, while engaging with communities in eliminating illegal mining in the province.

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