By DALE LUMA
SMALL-scale gold production is a very important part of the economy and needs to be nurtured, according to K92 Mining chief executive officer John Lewins.
Lewins told The National that small-scale alluvial mining, for example, reportedly contributed between 100,000 ounces to 140,000 ounces of gold annually.
At the current global price, it is worth between K600 million to K800 million.
“However, accurate numbers are difficult to estimate,” Lewins said.
“The sector needs appropriate policies to support it.
“But it also needs to be properly regulated to ensure that it is done in a sustainable way and does not negatively impact the environment and communities.
“The Mineral Resource Authority (MRA) has been developing appropriate policies and legislation to support the sector and to improve the knowledge and skills of miners involved in this sector through the small-scale mining school and outreach programmes.”
Lewins said access to funding to help in the purchase of equipment to start or expand operations would also benefit individuals and groups.
Another area he suggested could assist the sector was a more formalised gold trading system.
Lewins also believed that the sector could be reserved for locals.
The MRA regards small-scale mining as a relatively untapped industry but with huge potential.
Between 60,000 and 80,000 miners earn a living out of alluvial mining by using non-mechanical methods.
The MRA’s Wau Small-Scale Mining Training School in Wau, Morobe, has more than 200 students graduating after each session.
The school trains artisanal miners on simple geology, mining techniques, occupational health and safety, including the proper use of mercury, and business skills in business management and book keeping.
By DALE LUMA