File image: IOL.

CAPE TOWN - Mining permits will reportedly be granted to thousands of illegal miners who had been illegally extracting diamonds from a site owned by the Kimberley Ekapa Mining Joint Venture. 

These miners have been extracting diamond fragments from this site for years, reports Fin24. However, they were not recognised as legal mining group. 

However, after negotiations between the miners and government, these miners will now be recognised said Deputy Mining Minister Godfrey Oliphant. 

Oliphant reportedly said that this is a historic achievement for the community and most illegal miners are in fact experienced mineworkers. This new agreement will also reportedly allow the miners to sell their diamonds on the market, avoiding illegal dealings. 

Just last year, hundreds of artisanal miners embarked on a mass action protest marching through the city streets demanding the right to mine legitimately and without fear of harassment from law enforcement and mining companies.

Members of Black First Land First (BLF), Mining Affected Communities United in Action (Macua) and Kimberley Artisanal Mine Workers (KAMW) participated in the march, which first saw protesters appeal to the police for protection and assistance in criminal investigations before a memorandum of demands was handed over at the provincial Department of Mineral Resources’ offices in Phakamile Mabija Road.

The miners’ demands included recognition over the floors, land of their own, to be granted legitimate permits by the DMR and for the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act to be revisited in order to accommodate the interests of the artisanal miners and zama zamas across the country.

After assembling at the informal settlement along Samaria Road, the protesters marched on the provincial offices of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks), where the leadership of the various organisations met with the SAPS Deputy Provincial Commissioner for Crime Prevention, Major-General Koliswa Otola, to discuss matters pertaining to the relationship between the artisanal miners and law enforcement.

At this meeting, the chairperson of KAMW, Lucky Seekoei, attempted to open a criminal case against Ekapa Minerals (Pty) Ltd, Kimberley Ekapa Mining Joint Venture (KEMJV), Super Stone Mining (Pty) Ltd and Crown Resources (Pty) Ltd, accusing them of mining without permits at various sites in and around Kimberley. These included Kenilworth, Samaria, Greenpoint and Greenside.