Small-scale (informal) mining is the way to go as industrial (informal) mining is becoming increasingly unsustainable, Bench Marks Foundation, David van Wyk, said, when addressing delegates during a conference in Johannesburg yesterday.
van Wyk was speaking at the Science Business Society Dialogue Conference on Linking Science, Society, Business and Policy for the Sustainable Use of Abandoned Mines in the Southern African Development Community Region Conference.
While small-scale mining has immense benefits, for its potential to be realised, there is need for modalities to facilitate a smooth transition from large-scale, industrial mining to small-scale mining in an “orderly, sensible and safe” manner, said van Wyk.
He called for zama zamas (term for illegal miners in South Africa) to be organised into small legal entities called cooperatives, which should be state supported through finance, education and training.
In addition, van Wyk suggested that small-scale businesses be assigned with an engineer, a geologist and a health and safety offer to safe operations.
Demonstrating the potential of small-scale mining, van Wyk said, according to statistics from Bench Marks Foundation, 36, 000 people were involved in small-scale mining, while about 400 000 people are dependent on small-scale mining. The statistics were quoted in the presentation titled, ‘The Legacy of Mining: Perspectives on Past Practices and Future Options – A community-centred view from South Africa’.