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‘NC miners living in inhumane conditions’

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The ANC had committed itself to resolve the issues relating to mining activities that are currently taking place in the Namaqua district

ASSESSING: The deputy minister of mineral affairs, Godfrey Oliphant (yellow shirt) visited small-scale miners in the Namaqua district yesterday. Picture: Supplied

THE DEPUTY Minister of Mineral Resources, Godfrey Oliphant, yesterday visited the Namaqua district, where more than 1 000 small-scale miners have set up camp at the Kleinzee Bedrock, leading to several issues related to diamond mining.

Oliphant, accompanied by the Northern Cape MEC for Environment and Nature Conservation, Pauline Williams, and the executive mayor, Mervin Cloete, yesterday visited the Kleinzee Bedrock to assess the situation that confronts small-scale miners in Namaqua.

“Upon our arrival, we witnessed more than 1 000 people that have set up base on the Bedrock, hoping to find their fortune. We must acknowledge that the living conditions that small-scale miners are exposed to, is inhumane. Due to the location where the mining activities take place, no water and sanitation facilities are erected on site. As the number of small-scale miners is rapidly increasing it brings about many societal ills. The district and local municipality will explore all possibilities to ensure that ablution facilities and the provision of water becomes a reality,” the spokesperson for the ANC in the Northern Cape, Naledi Gaosekwe, said.

She added that the ANC had committed itself to resolve the issues relating to mining activities that are currently taking place in the Namaqua district.

Oliphant indicated that the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) would “rely on strong co-operation from the municipalities and small-scale miners in order to regularise and formalise the mining operations to ensure that it is safe”.

“The communities have been tasked with organising themselves and to establish co-operatives to assist the process of the DMR. Small-scale miners must identify the areas where they want to mine in order for the officials of DMR to expedite the appropriate permits to miners. We also take note of the agreement that was signed between the representatives of small-scale miners and DMR in Upington on November 21 2018 which indicates the terms and conditions,” Oliphant said.

It was yesterday agreed that all mining activities will be halted on December 15 and that operations will resume in January.

“The site will be access controlled and law enforcement officers will monitor the area from December 15. We appeal to all small-scale miners to work with us to legalise the mining operations in Namaqua and for all people of the region to share the wealth of its minerals,” Oliphant stated.

Oliphant will again visit Namaqua within the next two weeks to provide feedback to the small-scale miners on the process of their mining permits. He will also visit the Richtersveld area.