Investment in smaller mining companies could help stem the tide of job losses in the troubled sector and speed up the process of beneficiation, according to the Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources Godfrey Oliphant.
Addressing the Junior Mining Indaba in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Oliphant said the new junior miners’ programme would provide opportunities for small-scale players entering the sector.
“The mining sector has over the past years seen a large number of job losses.... the sector currently employs just about 450 000 people," Oliphant said during his address at the indaba.
"That can change if we invest in junior mining.”
The sector has shed thousands of jobs as companies restructured their operations in the face of low global demand.
Oliphant said there are currently over 90 companies on the junior mining database, and most of them have challenges over access to capital required for projects.
"Emerging miners in South Africa are faced with a number of challenges including, among others, delays in the administration of mining rights and water use licence applications... and in some instances lack of technical expertise," he said.
He told delegates that his department is working with the Department of Trade and Industry to help smaller mining firms gain knowledge from other emerging countries and seek investors.
He also stressed that the Mining Charter would be finalised this month, after months of consultations with communities and industry.
The conference, which is in its fourth year, provides a platform for small and mid-tier mining companies to rise to the challenges they face.
“We all want to see a flourishing junior mining industry and an end to the regulation and red tape that inhibits exploration,” said Bernard Swanepoel, chairperson of the indaba.
Swanepoel voiced concern about the “overconcentration of ownership by large mining houses”, saying it points to the need for more competition and development of the mining pipeline.
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