File picture: Stefan Wermuth

RUSTENBURG - Petra Diamonds Limited on Thursday, launched an Artisanal Small Scale Mining (ASM) initiative in Koffiefontein in the Free State.

"Petra believes that there is a space for artisanal small scale miners to co-exist with formalised, large-scale mining, since ASM can often profitably recover diamonds from resources that would be unprofitable, or at best marginal, for a larger operator due to the capital and overhead costs involved," the diamond mining group said. 

"A decision was taken to make available some of the Tailings Mineral Resources (TMR), notably the resource generally referred to as the 'Eskom dump', for the benefit of the community of Koffiefontein. The intention is that properly regulated artisanal mining, which would comply with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, as well as other standards for such operations set by, inter alia, the United Nations, will be conducted on this resource."

The aim of the initiative was to create a framework within which ASM could be conducted by community members in a legal and regulated manner.

This was the second ASM initiative put in place by the company, further to Petra's efforts involved in establishing the ASM sector in Kimberley. 

"This culminated in the landmark agreement in 2017 between Kimberley Ekapa Mining JV, in which Petra had a majority interest at the time, and other stakeholders, with the result that available TMRs in Kimberley were allocated to two community-based primary mining co-operatives, Batho Pele and Goede Hoop."

The Koffiefontein Community Mining Primary Cooperative (KCM) has been officially established and registered as the primary beneficiaries of this project, the infrastructure and processes required to ensure the operation of this venture have been put in place.

Chief executive Richard Duffy said the initiative was another milestone in the company's legacy.

"We regard this initiative as yet another milestone in the Petra legacy and we welcome the KCM artisanal miners as partners in our industry to complement our own operations and extract optimal benefit from the diamond reserves in Koffiefontein," Duffy said.  

"We wish KCM all of the best with this venture, and thank our Government and community partners for their continued support of both the project and the KCM."

African News Agency (ANA)