The Minister of Mining Serialong Qoo has proclaimed the law intended to govern the long awaited Small-Scale mining yesterday at the ministry boardroom in Maseru.
Qoo said Peke-le-Kharafu as the small scale artisan mining is commonly known, gives Basotho a green light to mine without fear of being accused for having possession of minerals illegally.
He sad different stakeholders are going to be embedded into the structure to ensure safety of lives and environment; inter alia, the security agencies comprised of police and soldiers will be roped in for security purposes.
He also mentioned the Ministry of Health and Local Government as they are going to work closely with chiefs and community councillors. He said the Ministry of Forestry and Rangeland Reclamation will be attached to ensure safety of the environment.
“It has been a long time since we have been working on the law to have Basotho mine on small-scale and the government agreed and enacted the law that Basotho should be given the green light to mine” he pointed out.
He said the expedition they have embarked on will assist the country economically that many Basotho will not have to resort to illegal mining in the neighbouring South Africa where they end up being shot.
“Basotho are allowed to take their working tools and mine. We will choose a fertile land for them and they are allowed to sell diamonds in the country without fear of police.
“Soon we will embark on a journey to the sites that will be spotted with the supervision of the Commissioner and Peke-le-Kharafu committee because they know places better than us,” he said adding that miners are allowed to open their own mines once they have accumulated enough money.
Qoo added that they are going to hold workshops to those who will be awarded licenses to possess knowledge on how a diamond looks.
“Registration will be made by Councillors to avoid allowing foreigners as the project is designed only for Basotho.
“We are going to select two places as a pilot phase. We are going to send the ministry’s officers who will work side-by-side with the miners,” he said.
He indicated that the diamonds will be auctioned and passed through a transparent process for buying and selling.
He said that their long term vision is to have a diamond manufacturing industry where diamonds will be sold in the country, polished and cut and produced into jewelleries.
“We are working on a feasibility study on how a viable manufacturing diamond industry should be set up because the mandate is that even diamonds from the big mines should sell at that centre. “We have experts at the ministry who are able to tell how much a diamond worth. We are on the verge of hiring a government diamond evaluator who will evaluate all the diamonds in the country so that we know their worth,” he said.