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M200m from small-scale mining

Mohloai Mpesi

The Ministry of Mining says the small-scale has a potential of gathering M200million in profits for the country.

This forms part of the motivation for presentation of the Precious Stone Prevention of Illicit and Theft of Diamond Regulations of 2020.

The ministry presented the three month subordinate law that expire on January 31, 2021 before the National Assembly’s Portfolio Committee on Natural Resource, Tourism and Land cluster this week.

According to the ministry, the law is designed to encourage small-scale miners who have diamonds to hand them over to the ministry within the stipulated timeframe.

The ministry’s Commissioner of Mines Pheello Tjatja said they are estimating a collection of above M4million from the diamonds sales in the next three months. He said they have also estimated about M200million from small-scale diamond mining within the next 10 years.

“We have estimated a collection of 1 000 carats and also assessed that it is about 300 people who have the diamonds. The benefits likely to be attained are above 4million from the diamonds. We can guarantee M200million in ten years,” he said.

Tjatja said their aim is to collect the diamonds before they could issue out the mining renewable licensing. He said the endeavour will aid Basotho to close the unemployment gap.

“Every year when we give out the ministry’s report on diamonds, we always indicate that there are confiscated diamonds which are found sold unlawfully, and we were threatened by the increasing rate of apprehended people, caught for unlawful diamond peddling, which called for a concern to address the problem.

“We found out when the small-scale mining was blocked in 2004, the nation was angry and did not support the idea. That made them to continue mining unlawfully. Some are keeping them to themselves, while others are selling them to the black markets, which is dangerous for their lives,” he said briefing the committee.

“That is why we made the law in order to collect the diamonds to the ministry in order t0 issue out the licenses so that people will start mining freely.

“We have three months to collect the diamonds so that we will issue out the licenses, the law expires on January 31.

“We want to see prosperity in the country and with this initiative we are sure to eradicate poverty and close the unemployment gap,” he said.

He continued that the diamonds are going to be cleared and recorded according to the places where they were mined. He said the owner of the diamonds will be given a document proving that he handed his diamond to the ministry and will be paid after the sale has been made.

“20% of diamonds sales all around the world are from people mining in small-scale.

“A clearance was made when the law was drafted; we also made consultation before drafting the law,” he said.

The ministry has requested for an evaluator from the Chamber of Mining as they will need the expertise during the auction process. Tjatja said they are going to incur costs such as accommodation, food, fuel and security.

“The diamonds are going to be cleared so that we give this market a value. It must also be clarified that this law is not made with the purpose of generating revenues, but for the smooth running of small-scale mining.

“We will be recording the diamonds, the owner will be given a form which he will print and give the copy to the ministry and keep another to himself as prove. He or she will pay for a revenue stamp of M10 when submitting the forms.

“The other part of the costs will emerge when selling the diamonds, we have to advertise them and make sure people know about them.

“During the auction, the diamonds will be sold to the highest bidder under diamond grading and sorting. We will need the expertise of a diamond evaluator to assist in this endeavour, we have already talked to the Chambers of Mines and they are willing to help.

“We don’t need a new budget for the work that we are going to carry-out; we are going to use the money that was allocated by the government. Even the sales of the diamonds will go to the government purse not the ministry.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Mining Serialong Qoo reiterated Tjatja’s view pointing out that the initiative resulted upon realisation that the law places the responsibility to make mining laws at their doorstep.

“We are doing this amendment law so that by the time we give the miners their licenses, they should have handed the diamonds over to the government.

“We are doing this because we realised that Basotho are in possession of the diamonds unlawfully, which is deemed as theft. So the law is designed to collect those which are in their hands first before we could allow them to mine with licenses,” he said.

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