Thousands of zama-zamas receive mining permits – by Sibongile Khumalo (Mail & Guardian – June 7, 2018)

Thousands of illegal diamond diggers will on Thursday be granted a mining permit by the department of mineral resources as part of a plan to formalise the trade which is draining the industry, according to Deputy Mining Minister Godfrey Oliphant.

After years of illegally extracting diamond fragments from a mining site owned by the Kimberley Ekapa Mining Joint Venture, the Kimberley Artisanal Mineworkers will finally be recognised as a legal mining cooperative.

“This is a major milestone for both the mining group and the miners who for a long time have been seen as illegal miners,” said Oliphant. “This came after lengthy consultations between all the parties, including the provincial government of the Northern Cape,” Oliphant told Fin24.

Oliphant estimates that illegal mining in the gold sector alone costs companies over R70-billion a year. Ekapa Mining has made available about 400 hectares of land to the group, where they have dug deep furrows and holes in search for diamonds, using makeshift tools.

Oliphant hailed the partnership as a “historic achievement for the community”. “This is just one way of dealing with the scourge of zama-zamas; we are saying by issuing them with permits, we are giving them a legal platform to better themselves.”

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