By Thomas Chidamba
THE largest artisanal and small-scale miners’ representative body, Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners Association (ASSA), is set to change the face of small-scale mining after clinching an investment deal worth US$200 million with a diversified South African aviation company, Greenfli Aviation Group.
The aviation firm will invest in state-of-the-art equipment to help small-scale miners do away with primitive mining methods and unfriendly environmental practices such as using mercury in trapping gold.
Currently, small-scale miners are reported to contribute more than 60% of gold bullion to Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR).
Greenfli Aviation is a company with a wealth of aviation experience that was born out of the need for short and medium-term specialised aviation solutions in non-standard operating environments and has over 50 years combined industry experience, across Africa, Asia, Middle East, and Australasia.
The firm believes that: “Africa is a unique destination both for business and pleasure.”
ASSA national chairperson Blessing Togarepi confirmed the deal saying the investment will give a new lease of life to artisanal and small-scale mining, helping miners to produce more gold for FPR.
“The partnership is expected to be beneficial to all artisanal and small-scale miners because Greenfli will provide state-of-the-art mining technology that will make mining easier and efficient.
“The investor is willing to work with all licensed artisanal and small-scale miners partnering them with provision of working capital, mining equipment and trucks to capacitate their mining operations and provision of advisory services so that small-scale miners will use safe and environmentally-friendly mining methods.
“The investor is against the use of mercury which was classified as hazardous to human beings and the environment.
“The investor also wants to bring plant and equipment to make it easy to mine and make it efficient and effective rather than to continue using primitive mining methods,” he said.
Togarepi said the investment would go a long way in formalising artisanal and small-scale mining so that they contribute to government’s US$12 billion mining revenue target by 2023 and curb gold smuggling.
“ASSA wants to make it viable and make the artisanal and small-scale miners fall within the formal sector so that they could easily contribute to the growth of the economy and sustain their operations.
“The investors assured us that it was their wish to improve the welfare of citizens in mining areas through gold mining.
“Artisanal and small-scale miners, despite being informal, are immensely contributing to the US$12 billion target by 2023,” he said.
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