Small scale miners to be licensed- Qoo

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Bereng Mpaki

THE government will soon issue small scale diamond licences to empower locals to venture into the lucrative industry, Mining minister Serialong Qoo has said.

Mr Qoo said this while in Parliament yesterday while presenting his ministry’s budget estimates for the 2020/21 financial year before the National Assembly. He said the decision was in response to the plight of small-scale players in the absence of licensing.

He said this was in line with the minerals and mining policy of 2015, which states that the government would work towards recognising and repositioning artisanal and small scale-mining (ASM) to alleviate poverty in the country.

“We are going to start issuing prospecting licences to our small-scale diamond diggers as a way of alleviating poverty,” Mr Qoo said.

“When I was part of the opposition, I have always called for the country’s minerals resources to be used for the benefit the people, and now I have an opportunity to do that since I am the Minister of Mining.”

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Mr Qoo later told the Lesotho Times that his ministry would first go around the country engaging community leaders on how they would like the licensing to be approached in relation to the mineral resources in their areas.

“The plan is to have the prospecting licences issued during the current financial year. On our visits around the country, we will meet members of the community, their leaders such as chiefs, councillors and members of parliament. The meetings will determine whether or not the community needs investors in this type of mining.”

The public consultations are expected to last less than one month to make way for licensing.

Mr Qoo said small scale mining has always been prohibited in the country due to fears of illegal trading of diamonds. He said they would also ensure that small scale diggers are able to sell their diamonds locally.

The government will also strengthen mineral resource exploration efforts by upscaling the players’ skills.

Mr Qoo also said that his ministry would soon come up with regulations that will compel large scale mining companies to spend a minimum of M5 million or one percent of their revenue on their host communities through corporate social initiatives.

Parliament approved Mr Qoo’s M26 825 316 budget for the 2020/21 financial year.

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