South Africa's mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe addresses the Investing in African Mining Indaba on February 4. PHOTO: Songezo Ndlendle / African News Agency (ANA)

CAPE TOWN – The mining Industry should facilitate and license artisanal mining in order to get it into formal trading, South Africa's Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said on Monday.

"We should facilitate artisanal mining, small scale mining, license them so that whatever they produce must get into the formal trade. If we don't do that,  we will actually convert hundreds of people into criminals. So we must deal with both of those but what we should not allow is when we start licensing and you find the criminal aspect hiding on the licensing process," he said.

"We should not allow illegal mining, it is first and foremost a criminal activity,  we must deal with that. The criminal aspect must be dealt with decisively and then facilitate the licensing of people who want to do small scale and artisanal mining, that is my issue on small scale mining."

Mantashe was speaking at a panel discussion at the 25th annual Investing in African Mining Indaba which kicked off on Monday morning at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).

During his opening keynote address of the Indaba, the minister said one of the challenges that the mining industry was facing was the issue of illegal mining which has caused major leakage to the world economies. 

"Another challenge that is facing us, which is an African problem and a global problem is the question of illegal mining where people still and that is a leak to the economies," Mantashe said.

"In South Africa, it was published last December that R41 billion of gold is in illegal mining. That is a big amount of money.  It is our responsibility to try and regularize that, develop artisanal mining, issue licenses and ensure that small scale artisanal mining is part of the industry and I think that can draw lot of experience from our sister countries in the continent because they have been into artisanal mining for a long time."

African News Agency (ANA)