In an attempt to curb illegal mining, the Mineral Resources Department is formalising the Zama Zamas  or informal miners.

The Department handed legal papers to nearly one-thousand artisanal miners who had gathered at the Mayibuye Multipurpose Centre in Kimberley in the Northern Cape on Thursday.

This will affect thousands of small-scale miners in the Kimberley area.

They have also been granted access to 500 hectares of land from which to mine. This is seen as a victory for the miners who clashed with police and mine security several times over the past five years.

Artisanal miners leader Lucky Seekoei says at least two thousand miners will now search for diamonds without fear of being arrested.

“When you get a diamond, you come to the office, we go to the market, and the diamond gets sold. You get your money and you pay the tax.”

Mineral Resource Deputy Minister, Godfrey Olifant says other areas where illegal mining occurs might receive similar permits, “What we have agreed as the department of mineral resources is to legalise areas that are safe to do so. The department will provide training for those miners.”