Artisanal miners in the Kimberley area are discovering new areas to mine on. They have now moved into various parts of residential areas, including West End and Ottoskoppie, where mining dumps are situated.
One of the miners, Thapelo Moloi, who hails from the Free State, says unemployment led him to Kimberley. He says the mining permits that were recently allocated to them by the Mineral Resources deputy minister, Godfrey Oliphant, allows them to mine in the area, provided proper channels have been followed.
“There’s no other way for us to earn a living that’s why we are here. We’ve got children and wives to support including myself as an old man, now to be here it’s because it’s near the dump and fortunately enough we have seen that this is the right place we’ve been looking for.”
The artisanal miners have organised themselves and formed a co-operative, which legally sells the diamonds they find, into the open market. Their leader Lucky Seekoei explains:
“There are new sites that are being discovered but as per our agreement with the Department of Minerals it starts when we discover new sites we will have to follow due process and apply for those. By doing so, we just have to say to the municipality that this land is a municipal land. The municipality must actually grant us a permit to work on that area.”
The Sol Plaatje municipality says the miners must ensure that they follow all processes and proper procedure before invading land. The municipality has also cautioned them about the health and safety issues that they need to adhere to.
The artisanal miners say they’ll continue to identify more sites to mine — as the high level of unemployment is still a major challenge in the country.