The mining sector presents significant concerns around human rights and environmental pollution

Mineral Resources and Energy Deputy Minister Nobuhle Nkabane promised artisanal and small-scale miners that the government will keep helping them grow in the mining industry.

Speaking at the inaugural Artisanal Small-Scale Miners and Emerging Miners Symposium hosted by Mintek in Randburg on Thursday, the deputy minister recalled that the artisanal and small-scale mining policy was introduced in 2002 as a part of the government's efforts to grow a globally competitive and transformed mining sector.

"At the core of this mining policy is the need for all stakeholders to collaborate and work together on the training and development of artisanal and small-scale miners to mine the marginal deposits that are considered less valuable by large mining companies," Nkabane said, SA News reported.

She explained that as a part of DMRE's (Department of Mineral Resources and Energy)'s efforts to initiate funding opportunities for miners, the department encouraged "artisanal miners and small-scale miners to apply for the funding designated to assist with financial provision for rehabilitation and capital equipment."

As per the minister, around 21 companies have been chosen to get funding. Furthermore, the department has started an R400 million fund for exploration to help find new mining opportunities and support smaller mining companies.

She stressed that it's important for the industry along with organizations like Mintek (South Africa's mineral research and technology organization) and the government, to make sure the mining sector becomes more inclusive and fairer.

"All of us here should ask ourselves what legacy are we going to leave. If we don't want to be part of transforming the sector, who else is going to do that because we are given that responsibility of transforming the sector," she said.

She noted that it is important to support small-scale and artisanal miners, adding that this is not any individual's responsibility but everyone's responsibility as a whole.

"The fact of the matter is that our current development will be spearheaded by [Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises] including the artisanal and small-scale miners," she concluded.

President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this year acknowledged that persistent challenges are hurting the nation's mining performance and his government is working hard to fix the problems in the mining industry.

The mining industry in South Africa contributes 7.5% to the country's gross domestic product (GDP) and accounts for around 60% of the country's exports.