Third Small Scale Mining Association on cards
Geo-Capricorn Mineral Developers will initiate the body that will represent 25 miners from the Gibeon, Maltohoë, Rehoboth and Mariental Districts.
Sylvanie Beukes founder of Geo-Capricorn said although they are excited at the prospects, small scale mining can be a game of ‘Russian Roulette’ without the right equipment.
“We have been in talks with the Ministry of Mines’ Directorate of Small Scale Mining in getting registered as an association,” he said. Currently three organisations represent the needs of the small mining communities namely the Erongo Region Small Miners Association (ERSMA), and the Hardap Regional Small Miners Association. Small scale miners in the south are mulling for a second association for their region and a third for the country.
Erongo Region Small Miners Association as the mother body for small scale miners was founded by the Rossing Foundation and the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
Arnold Kumundu acting association administrator for ERSMA said in past years small miners are able to ask higher prices for their gems. Miners bring in their gems for value addition and polishing and estimating the value. Thanks to one year funding grant from the Finnish Embassy.
He said, “We help the miners register their cooperatives together with the agriculture ministry. We help in geographical coordinates as well as renting out equipment at a reduced rate. Concerns of safety have led to training depending on available funds.”The Navachab Gold mine has since donated used protective clothing to the association.
Kumundu estimates that there could be as much as 2,000 active small miners. Only 500 miners are registered under ERSMA, suggesting that 80% of the small scale mining activities are conducted illegally. Members each pay an annual fee of N$500. Small scale mining associations also try and intervene in cases where private land owners and miners are in conflict as prospective mining areas are located on private land. Miners are urged to rehabilitate the prospective mining sites. If disputes are not resolved, the association approaches the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
Ground penetrating radar can cost anything from N$200 upwards, with the potential to generate profits of between N$50,000 and N$100,000.
The European Union made a substantial contribution towards the Erongo Region Small Miners Association in 2008 by pledging N$8 million. The proceeds have since helped the association carry out its activities. The Erongo Regional Council governor, Hon. Klephas Mutjaika serves on the board of Erongo Region Small Miners on a 8 member board.
The Erongo Region Small Miners Association has eight compressors valued at N$240,000 per unit which they hire out to registered cooperatives at a reduced rate of N$71 per day. A separate business run in tandem with the association helps to sustain the association’s coffers through the hiring of equipment, mainly generators and sandblaster. According to Kumundu, accessibility to equipment is always a pressing need. He says a lack of training results in a reduction of the life span of the equipment.
Register members also have the benefit of their semi-precious stone gems displayed at Expos and trade shows he elaborated while further educating members about the potential prices their precious resources can reach.