Mines required to provide suitable housing for mineworkers

Smaller mines with turnovers of between R2-million and R150-million are challenged in meeting housing demands by their financial position

CHALLENGING TIMES Smaller mines with turnovers of between R2-million and R150-million are challenged in meeting housing demands by their financial position

31st January 2020


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Surface mining industry body Aggregate and Sand Producers Association of South Africa (Aspasa) has called for further engagement with the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) following last year’s release of the Draft Review of Housing and Living Conditions Standard, which requires mines to provide suitable housing for mineworkers.

Aspasa membership comprises mostly smaller mines with turnovers of between R2-million and R150-million, and as such their financial state ensures that meeting housing demands could prove challenging.

Further, many of the members’ mines are also new operations that are located within the boundaries of towns and cities and therefore obtain workforces from within the surrounding areas.

The materials being mined, such as sand and aggregates, are critical for the further development of the town or city where the mine or quarry is situated.

“We understand the requirement of the DMRE and have thanked its drafting team for giving us the opportunity to comment.

“Our sector represents a large part of the overall mining community with the average size of our mines being small and comprising a team of between 3 and 50 employees,” says Aspasa director Nico Pienaar.

He adds that the products mined include aggregate, clay, limestone, granite and salt, among others, most of which are used in the construction sector.

Given the small-scale nature of the businesses and the fact that the mines tend to crop up where infrastructure development is taking place, and most of them are relatively new, the majority of the mines do not have any hostels.

Pienaar adds that those which did have hostels demolished them in 2014, in line with targets set out in Mining Charter II.

He notes that Aspasa suggests that based on this information and a housing survey done on the type of dwelling employees live in, the smaller surface mining industry cannot build towns or villages as it will be too great a burden on operations that do not have the funds to do this.

Further, he notes that the DMRE granted several exemptions from significant sections of the Mining and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) to the South African National Roads Agency, in terms of the removal of minerals for construction and maintenance of dams, roads and railway lines.

Pienaar explains that this has placed enormous pressure on the aggregate mining sector as it has to comply with the MPRDA while competing with a government company that is exempt from parts of the legislation, which he says is tantamount to unfair competition.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor


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