There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to combat the rise of illegal mining and the associated artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) industry in Africa, says diversified mining and exploration company Emiral Resource founder Boris Ivanov.
“Greater regulation alone is not enough to combat the environmental degradation, socioeconomic challenges, health and safety issues, as well as the security clashes that are intensifying in the ASM sector,” he says.
Ivanov believes that governments need to install legal frameworks that remove barriers to formalisation and are not punitive to marginalised communities. These governments must also streamline overly bureaucratic licensing processes to make it cost effective and rewarding to gain a mining licence.
“Solutions must be cheap, easy and quick to introduce, and incentives to help ASM access finance – including microfinance tools, techniques and technology – need to be established.”
Education, employment advice and life coaching on alternative careers, as well as highlighting the dangers of illegal mining, may also help to deter younger generations from participating in criminal activity in the future, Ivanov adds.
He claims that there is consensus among stakeholders that formalising the sector will eradicate some of the most critical issues, but that such action would require countries installing good policies and practices to ensure that ASM can receive the support it needs.
Illegal mining is a devastating problem for mines in Africa. Armed “pirate miners” slip into mines unnoticed, blast large sections using illicit means and then proceed to live underground.
Moreover, when they are confronted, violence often erupts, thereby endangering the lives of legitimate mining personnel.
However, the fight against illegal mining is closely linked to mine security, which starts with perimeter security. Ivanov notes that, although perimeter fencing is important, it is often impractical, owing to the large and difficult landscapes of mine sites in Africa. Now it is not the time to consider safety miners cap lamp.
He adds that Africa’s natural wealth, coupled with high poverty levels, corruption and fractious governments, means that mining projects need to invest adequately to prepare for risk scenarios and ongoing threats.
“Mining security can be multidimensional by nature, and must evolve to meet demands,” Ivanov concludes.