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More than 830 will be issued permits to mine

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The agreement dictates that all work done by the artisanal miners must be done by hand while the use of machinery is prohibited

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The work of hundreds of miners, who have been operating illegally on sites in and around Kimberley, has been legitimised following an agreement between government and representatives of the formal and informal mining sectors.

The agreement, which was signed by representatives from the regional Department of Mineral Resources (DMR), the Kimberley Ekapa Mining Joint Venture (KEM-JV), the Sol Plaatje Municipality (SPM) and the Artisanal Miners Kimberley Committee (AMKC), saw the department issueing mining permits to the Batho Pele Primary and Goedemoed Trading cooperatives.

These cooperatives were established by the AMKC’s members who may now be allowed to continue legal operations on two identified sites in Kenilworth and Colville.

The DMR further agreed to expedite the applications for the artisanal miners’ prospecting rights for two additional sites within three months, while also prioritising ministerial approval of mining rights with respect to properties that were acquired by the KEM-JV from De Beers.

The KEM-JV agreed to the conditional transfer of ownership of 337.8ha in the vicinity of the Boshof Floors, Buffalo Camp and Kenilworth corridor.

The agreement dictates that all work done by the artisanal miners must be done by hand while the use of machinery is prohibited.

The agreement also stated that all steps will be taken to facilitate the return of equipment that was confiscated from artisanal miners by the police with the understanding that the equipment will only be used in legal operations.

An amount of up to R50 000 was offered to replace equipment that has been destroyed by SAPS.

AMKC also agreed that its members had no rights to KEM-JV property, other than that stipulated in the agreement.

There may also be no more theft, intimidation and attacks on staff, barricading of roads or other criminal acts.

The sale and registration of diamonds is to be properly documented and every stone must be registered with the Batho Pele Primary Cooperative.

These rights are only extended to 836 individuals that were listed in the agreement and will remain in place for a period of five years or until processing at the properties has ceased.

KEM-JV retains unfettered access to the surface rights of all property, including the transferred sites.

A ten-member mediation committee, comprising of two representatives from the KEM-JV, the DMR, AMKC, SPM and the Premier’s Office respectively, will also be established.

The SPM pledged its support to the artisanal miners in their applications for mining permits with regards to municipal property, including the processing of tailing mineral resources (TMRs), that have neither been earmarked for development, nor licensed to a third party and are not being used for other reasonable purposes.