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Far removed from glamorous minerals like gold, platinum and precious metals are miners of minerals like sand, rock and salt who do not attract nearly as much attention as their shiny cousins yet have an equally important role to play in the mining economy.
Until a few decades ago these mines were not catered for in legal frameworks and either blazed their own paths or fell afoul of laws that were primarily designed to regulate big mines. The need for self-regulation and self-determination therefore eventually led to the establishment of an industry association, ASPASA, which has been looking after their interests ever since.
During this time ASPASA has grown from strength-to-strength and become an internationally acknowledged leader in facilitating health, safety and environmental compliance, as well as leading initiatives to ensure fair treatment of workers, raising quality standards to the highest international levels and facilitating improved business practices.
It has even led the way on important issues such as the debate surrounding Royalties, diesel rebates, mine vehicle accident-avoidance research and many more issues that have made ASPASA one of the most active and respected associations in the mining industry today.
Under the leadership of industry stalwart, Nico Pienaar, executive director of ASPASA, the association is represented on numerous Government, private sector and labour organisations, including the Minerals Council South Africa. During his 22 years on the council, Pienaar has become the longest serving member and continues to highlight the importance of the smaller-scale mining sector that employs more than 500 000 people directly and indirectly in its operations.
His tenacious work and strong leadership during these times has also made him one of the most respected members of the council and an important voice when balancing shared issues.
“When ASPASA joined 22 years ago the Chamber of Mines was seen as a body for big mines only. My predecessor, Sir Rupert Bromley, was tasked with bringing smaller mines into the fold and he did so with vigour and pride. All these years later we still serve our sector, and the industry at large, with the same pride and vigour, only now we have years of expertise and experience assisting us in our efforts.
“The role we play is equally important as big mines with our members representing specific types of opencast mines with different needs and issues. These need to be heard by big mining companies and by Government and is the reason why ASPASA is so vocal when it comes to mining matters,” Nico concludes.