December 15, 2017

Quarries should be an asset to society -Aspasa

The formal quarrying sector in South Africa has worked tirelessly to clean-up its act in order to preserve the human rights of workers, as well as surrounding communities.

While certain other mining sectors have battled with human rights violations as a result of unsafe work practices, pollution of surrounds and social irresponsibility, quarries belonging to the Aggregate and Sand Producers Association of Southern Africa (Aspasa) have for the past 15 years put in place measures that protect citizen’s rights.

It was also among the first member associations to implement two separate programs relating to environmental, as well as health and safety compliance.  That means that in order for a quarry to become a member of Aspasa they have to first ensure that they comply with all relevant legislation, as well as the associations own strict standards. Thereafter they are audited annually on the About Face environmental program and the ISHE health and safety program to ensure ongoing compliance. 

Sustainable development

“We are serious about looking after the human rights of all involved in the industry as well as communities who may be affected by our members’ operations. For this reason, we ensure members follow the ‘letter of the law’ in terms of how workers and visitors are treated on site, have a safe working and manage the site in a sustainable manner.

“Although the quarrying industry is one of the biggest employers in the mining sector, our ongoing efforts have resulted in our sector having among the fewest fatalities and this number is steadily declining. Also, we are working with Government and other stakeholders to identify and eliminate preventable diseases on our sites.

“These are basic human rights that are being with on a daily basis and coordinated with our members via Aspasa. We have adopted a leadership role in this regard and have shared our knowledge and practices widely throughout the mining industry in South Africa, as well as abroad through the Global Aggregates Information Network (GAIN),” says Aspasa director, Nico Pienaar.

Intact environment

He continues that perhaps the most far-reaching influence the association has is through its environmental About Face program. This ensures that Aspasa member quarries do not negatively impact the environment as well as waterways and air quality surrounding the quarry. This means that surrounding residents should be no worse off than before the quality was started.

Rather, the aim is to put residents in a better position with long-term sustainable jobs created, as well as social responsibility inputs that are encouraged among our members. Air pollution in the form of dust has to be supressed, water usage is tightly controlled and has to be free of pollutants before leaving the site.

Furthermore, our aim is to rehabilitate the land in such a way that it may become an asset to the community once it has reached the end of its life. This may be in the form of a largescale water reservoir, a landfill site, shopping centre development, race track, nature reserve or anything the community may dream-up.

Support required

“What is blatantly clear, is the fact that our quarries are a good place to work, are safe and sustainable for the future. It is also important to remember that the interventions that our members have in order to protect all our human rights does come at a monetary cost.

It is therefore important to ensure that building and large-scale construction projects undertaken by Government and the private sector are done using only responsibly obtained aggregates from Aspasa members. A cheaper rate may come with a far heftier price tag at the end of the day,” concludes Nico.

Aspasa, Nico Pienaar, Tel: (011) 791 3327, Fax: 086 647 8034, Email:, Web:


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