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Gold prospecting bid in Limpopo being underpinned by brickmaking revenue stream

Kaputeni Mining's Tsholofelo Shipalanah interviewed by Mining Weekly's Martin Creamer. Video: Darlene Creamer.

3rd July 2023

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor

     

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JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The need for sand to make bricks has resulted in a Limpopo entrepreneur stumbling upon a gold prospect for which a prospecting licence application has been acknowledged by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE).

Kaputeni Mining head Tsholofelo Shipalanah, a 34-year-old mother who is making 3 000 bricks a day and generating R200 000 to R400 000 a year, intends using some of the revenue to also fund a gold search. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video.)

In wanting to put an end to procuring river sand for brickmaking mined by others, Kaputeni applied to the DMRE for the right to mine sand – and discovered that the sand area sought has a gold mining history.

As a consequence, in addition to applying for the sand mining licence, Kaputeni now also wants a gold prospecting licence, with aspirations of becoming a gold miner in the area of Burgersdorp, a village outside of Tzaneen, where Shipalanah proudly declares having been “born and bred”.

DMRE has already let Kaputeni know that no other application has been submitted for the area in question.

Mining Weekly: It's good to have a business going which is generating cash that you can then use to prospect. Is that the idea?

Shipalanah: That is the idea.

On how Kaputeni goes about selling its bricks, Shipalanah said: ”We sell them to the surrounding communities and we’ve started talks with BuildIt so that we can be their supplier. We’re in the process of finalising the contract with BuildIt. What will happen is BuildIt will buy from me in bulk and then they will sell to their customers.”

Shipalanah initially pursued a career in the sciences, having earned a BSc Honours degree from the University of Limpopo in 2011. With aspirations of becoming a scientist, she secured her first job as a technician at the national blood service.

However, in the midst of all that, watching her father running his own construction company inspired her to pursue entrepreneurship. “Every time I looked at him, I would think ‘no man, this is something that I want to try’,” which she did, and her father is now a 20% shareholder of Kaputeni, which has 16 permanent employees.

Earlier this year, Kaputeni invested in a generator to shield itself from the disruptive downtime caused by loadshedding, but amid the high price of diesel, Shipalanah is now intent on, at some time in the future, transitioning to renewable energy.

Since embarking on her entrepreneurial path in 2018, Shipalanah’s business has experienced growth with the help of Fetola and the SAB Foundation's Tholoana Enterprise Programme.

Fetola means ‘change’ in Sesotho and the Fetola team describes itself as being inspired by United Nations Goal 17 to foster partnerships that are a force for good.

On assistance received, Shipalanah highlighted how the programme provides a mentor to enable prospective entrepreneurs to establish a business structure. “It's very, very helpful,” she enthused – and interestingly, she is continuing to study – this time project management through Unisa.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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