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Skills, access to markets, and collaboration key to emerging miners

Mintek, in collaboration with the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE), hosted the Artisanal & Small-Scale/Emerging Miners Symposium on April 11, 2024. The symposium gathered over 200 industry representatives, including influential entities like the JSE, IDC, and Wits University, along with DMRE entities to delve into crucial topics surrounding the empowerment of Artisanal Small-Scale Miners/Emerging Miners (ASM/EM).

The event underscored a recurring theme: the paramount importance of skills development, market access, and collaboration in driving the growth and sustainability of emerging miners. Discussions centred on tackling challenges throughout the mining value chain, with expert speakers sharing insights on mineral processing capabilities, funding and training opportunities, health & safety concerns, and innovative funding strategies tailored to support ASM/EM sectors.

Dr Molefi Motuku, CEO of Mintek, reaffirmed Mintek's commitment to advancing the industry through technology transfer, stating, "Mintek remains dedicated to empowering emerging miners through cutting-edge technologies, exemplified by our successful iGoli project with Above Average Mines in Barberton, Mpumalanga. Mintek’s iGoli technology helps extract gold in a safer, more cost-effective, and environmentally friendly process. Our focus is on equipping ASM/EM with the skills and knowledge necessary for sustainable growth as well as fitting technology”.

The Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Dr Nobuhle Nkabane, emphasised the vital role of these mining sub-sectors in the economy and outlined the government's support for small-scale and emerging miners. During her address at the symposium, she highlighted the recent launch of the R400 million exploration fund, stating, 'The launch of the R400 million exploration fund is a significant step towards assisting qualifying enterprises in the mining industry to conduct exploration work, accelerate new mineral discoveries, and promote economic inclusion.  

Dr Nkabane further highlighted the government's efforts, including the introduction of the ASM Policy in 2022, aimed at fostering collaboration and empowering ASM/EM through training and development initiatives. She added, "At the core of this policy is the need for all stakeholders to collaborate and work together on the training and development of artisanal and small-scale miners and empower them to mine the marginal deposits that are considered less valuable by large mining companies."

The symposium served as a catalyst for collaborative efforts among stakeholders, aiming to create an enabling environment for ASM/EM to thrive, thus ensuring a sustainable and transformative mining industry benefiting all stakeholders.

In conclusion, the symposium participants committed to tangible actions that aim to drive progress in mining. These include enhancing skills development, technology, collaborating on funding initiatives and prioritising information sharing for ASM/EM participants. These actions demonstrate a clear dedication to creating a sustainable and inclusive mining ecosystem for the benefit of all and the continuous engagement of black communities, particularly Africans, in the mainstream economy.