Mining MX reported on the recent awarding of mining licenses in Kimberley to thousands of ‘zama-zamas’ (artisanal and illegal miners), after several years of deadlock. Recognising that there is limited recognition of informal artisanal mining in South Africa, which is in often cases allowed in very specific and very limited situations under current laws, various actors are increasingly articulating the importance of artisanal mining, especially as it relates to the contribution it makes to livelihoods. Christopher Rutledge of ActionAid South Africa is cited in this article saying that artisanal mining “is actually a real economic alternative that can be viable if we focus our energies in the right direction”.

This shift in public debate regarding artisanal mining in South Africa links to a project we initiated with our grantees, ActionAid South Africa and the Centre for Sustainability in Mining and Industry (CSMI) at Wits University. Working closely with the Mine Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA), this project aims to facilitate a national debate around regularising artisanal mining in South Africa, with the aim of informing a policy reform process that would develop a strategic legislative framework for adoption by the Department of Mineral Resources. This forms part of our strategy under the Extractive Sector Transparency and Accountability portfolio.

Supported by us, the CSMI also conducted an initial scoping study into artisanal and small-scale mining in South Africa as a basis for the current project, which is available to read here.