Lengthy delays in securing mining permits and licences, onerous and inappropriate regulatory requirements, lack of funding for entrepreneurs, and a Mining Charter and implementation guidelines which are impractical for small operators – these are just some of the problems that confront start-up and existing alluvial diamond miners in the Northern Cape like Amo Marengwa and Lyndon de Meillon.
Under the coordination of South African Diamond Producers Organisation (SADPO), the alluvial diamond mining industry has attempted to highlight the diversity of the Junior mining sector and the challenges of the ‘one size fits’ all approach to minerals policy by regulators. Both Amo Marengwa and Lyndon de Meillon are members of SADPO’s National Committee.
Amo Marengwa is the son of Dr Ben Marengwa, SA’s first black geologist. After Dr Marengwa passed away, Amo and his three brothers decided to continue some of their father’s projects, one of which was prospecting for diamonds in Taung, North West Province. They grew up in the area and know local people and customs.
Their company, Blue Banjo, applied for and was granted a prospecting right on a property that has been well explored and partly mined previously. They put in R13m of their own savings for a processing plant so that they could begin bulk sampling.
That is where progress has stalled. They don’t have the working capital to start operations and no institution – not the Industrial Development Corporation, nor the banks – will lend it to them.
“There are no proper support mechanisms for new entrants to the industry,” Amo Marengwa says. “The battle to find funding is forcing many black mining entrepreneurs to rent out their land to the better-established white miners. Apart from the funding, we face two other serious challenges – lack of access...