Surface mining industry association, ASPASA, has compiled its Big Four priorities to address problems and opportunities in the industry with the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE).

The association has been mandated by its members to approach the department and address concerns that are stifling the growth and sustainability of the industry. Top of these is the blight of Mafia in the construction industry. ASPASA members are the main producers of building materials (sand, stone, cement, dimension stone) and are losing substantial sales as a result of the cancellation of projects as a result of Mafia-type interference from criminal syndicates.

ASPASA director, Nico Pienaar, said the association cannot standby idly as these syndicates undermine the livings of its members. As a result, the association has called on its members to highlight instances where gangsterism has affected their businesses, the number of times it has happened, where and when these occurrences took place. This data will then be shared with the industry and addressed to the DMRE.

Illegal mining

Similarly, the second area of focus is on illegal mining which is eroding the sustainability of surface miners who simply cannot compete with unregulated, non-taxpaying enterprises in their vicinities. The association want to highlight to the DMR that these illegal operations are no longer the domain of individuals and small groups but is rather becoming the domain of syndicates and international racketeers.

Inefficient or non-existent enforcement of the law regarding illegal mining is becoming a breeding ground for the proliferation of these syndicates and is even leading to otherwise law-abiding individuals, companies and municipalities breaking the law regarding mining rights, environment, health and safety legislation.

Members want the DMRE to take stronger action with immediate effect or risk destabilising entire industries within mining regions or even the entire country’s mining status quo. ASPASA members employ more than half-a-million workers directly and indirectly in South Africa. Members have been asked to identify sites where illegal mining is taking place in their own areas.

Electricity shortages

The third focus is on electricity and ASPASA’s submission of Annexure ‘C’ to the DMRE on the Electricity Regulations Act (ERA), published on 23 April 2021 – stakeholder comment. ASPASA has submitted this, and members invited to use its submission on their own letterheads as well. The annexure asks for clarity on the objectives of the ERA, as well as clarifying members rights in terms of own generation and storage capacities for their own usage on their sites among others.

Lastly, ASPASA wants to share some of its successes with the DMRE in addressing skills shortages in the industry. Among its many initiatives, ASPASA has also become a member of the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) as a voluntary association. This will allow it to provide input and registration to member companies and young professionals within the industry.

Once the association has the necessary information to address these concerns and opportunities it will go about setting up an online meeting between its own representatives and those of the DMRE.

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