Impact: Limited involvement of small-scale miners in the diamond mining industry has created imbalances in the distribution of benefits of mining and has restricted the potential for these miners to secure a living. Small-scale mining has been hampered by factors including: 1) lack of access to finance by financiers unwilling to fund ventures which offer limited financial security and returns; 2) lack of appropriate structures to assist small scale mining development; 3) location of mining operations far from major markets; 4) lack of access to marketing channels; 5) lack of management and technical skills, and; 6) inability of small-scale entrepreneurs to provide adequate diamond security measures. Not only have these problems marginalised small-scale miners, but they have also led to the non-exploitation of marginal diamond deposits regarded by larger companies as unprofitable.
Mitigation: In line with the new Minerals Policy of South Africa and policies of the Ministry of Mines and Energy of Namibia, the respective governments have pledged to increase participation in the mining industry by those previously excluded. Measures that have been proposed to improve small miner involvement in the mining industry are: 1) to facilitate access to funding through appropriate institutions; 2) to ensure that information on technology and mineral development and exploitation is made available to the small-scale mining sector; 3) to encourage municipalities to support the emergence and development of small-scale miners, and; 4) to enhance the capacity of Department of Minerals and Energy to provide support to small-scale miners.
6.3.3 Promotion of Joint Management Ventures with Employees
Impact: Racial imbalances are prevalent within the mining industry (as in other industries) with the majority of middle and senior management positions still occupied by whites. Lack of joint management ventures or partnerships with mine employees has led to lack of advancement of “black” workers and professionals into senior positions or management levels. This has created a situation whereby black employees have become demoralised through lack of economic empowerment, which undermines the political and economic stability of the mining industry.
Mitigation: Training programmes to upgrade skills amongst the workforce have targeted this disparity (see above) but will still take many years to effect significant changes. To date, few mining companies have sought to involve employees in joint management ventures such as shareholder participation schemes. The policies of South Africa and Namibia (see above) seek to improve employee-employer relations within the workplace and promote black participation in ownership and management within the mining industry. Authorities have also undertaken to consider changes to tax administration and company law to reduce obstacles to mining companies introducing Employee Share Ownership Participation Schemes for low-income workers.
6.3.4 Reduced Revenue from Offshore Diamond Mining to Local Areas
Impact: Onshore mining companies have devolved significant benefits to local areas. Most large companies have, or are in the process of, compiling and implementing company policy for the purchase of local goods and services and, where possible, from entrepreneurs from previously disadvantaged communities. In this way, these mining companies seek to devolve mining benefits to the local area and in so doing create a stable economic and political environment within which to conduct their activities.
Opportunities, however, for offshore mining companies to do likewise are limited by the fact that operations are conducted out of major urban centres, and most goods and services required to support offshore mining are high tech and not available from small scale enterprises. This is particularly the case in Namibia, where the use of Cape Town as a base for vessel servicing, repairs and victualling represents a loss of potential income for the Namibian economy. The shifting emphasis from onshore to offshore mining will lead to further losses to local economies.
Mitigation: No active mitigation measures have been implemented.
6.3.5 Allocation of Diamond Mining Revenues to Mining Areas
Impact: The diamond mining industry and the governments of South Africa and Namibia have been criticised by communities and local authorities for the lack of investment in infrastructure and services in towns near diamond mining areas. This stems from the policy where diamond revenues are put into a central revenue fund that are allocated to various budgets by the Government, rather than direct re-investment in the local district. To date, initiatives to address the allocation of a portion of these revenues to local and/or provincial authorities have been rejected. The mining industry, as well as the fishing industry, has not been required to directly fund the maintenance of state or provincial roads and have placed strain on harbour facilities. This is a contentious issue amongst relevant local authorities.
Despite the high income realised by diamond mining, areas surrounding diamond-mining exhibit retarded growth, lack of investment and in some places (e.g. Lüderitz) a growing population of unskilled workseekers. Elsewhere, where onshore diamond mining is in decline (e.g. Namaqualand), towns exhibit outmigration of the economically active age group to seek work elsewhere because of the lack of economic investment. Work seekers tend to move towards urban areas, such as Cape Town and Lüderitz, thereby compounding problems of crime, poverty, family separation and general demoralisation when jobs are not found.
Mitigation: No active mitigation measures have been implemented.
6.3.6 Strain on Infrastructure and Services of Towns near Mining Areas
Impact: Several towns along the South African and Namibian coasts are experiencing problems arising from the demand for infrastructure, services and resources to support the diamond mining industry. Many towns do not have the capacity to support the growing offshore mining industry – a problem compounded by the lack of direct financial inputs by Government. Infrastructure, services and resources which are often over-stretched include strain on harbour facilities, land fill sites, fresh water, and accommodation.
Mitigation: Facilities and the capacity of affected towns to support mining are being upgraded through redirection of financial and service inputs by Government and/or by creating incentives for mining companies to do so by working in conjunction with local authorities. This process needs to be expedited, however.
6.3.7 Conflict with the Fishing Industry
Issue: Conflict exists between the rock lobster fishing and marine diamond mining industries. The rock lobster industry holds the diamond mining industry responsible for the killing of lobster and large-scale destruction of lobster habitat by stirring up sediments, cutting kelp, and poaching. Although research studies suggest there is no causal relationship between increased marine diamond mining and the decline in fish catch rates experienced in recent years, the issue remains a source of conflict between the two industries.
Mitigation: The formation of fora or committees on which all the major stakeholders are represented appears to be the current trend for pre-empting and resolving conflicts as they arise. The Marenpro Forum in Lüderitz, Namibia, in which representatives of the fishing and mining industry as well as government ministries participate, is one such active forum. A West Coast Liaison Committee is soon to be established and has similar objective to the Marenpro Forum. All the players in the diamond mining industry in each area along the coast e.g. Western Cape and Northern Cape and Namibia should be encouraged to participate and contribute to these fora.
Impact: Perhaps one of the most significant impacts of onshore and surf zone mining is the impact on future land use and tourism potential. Trenches, mining blocks, overburden dumps and an overabundance of roads scar the landscape, considerably altering the original topography. This constitute a significant aesthetic impact, which will have “knock on” effects on the tourist industry and may jeopardise the future land use potential of decommissioned mining land.
Mitigation: Currently, the issuance of mining licences requires proof of funds for rehabilitation. However, prior to 1980 rehabilitation was not enforced, and large areas have been left scarred and un-rehabilitated. Some of the damage was caused by companies who no longer operate and the present holders of mining licences for these areas cannot be held responsible. The ultimate responsibility for rehabilitating these areas now lies with the government of the respective countries. In South Africa, the Department of Mines and Energy (DME) and the Department of Water Affairs (DWAF) contribute to a fund for derelict and ownerless mines, which is used for rehabilitation, and health and safety reparations. However, limited funding as well as the inherent problems of rehabilitation in arid areas, are the biggest constraints to successful rehabilitation.
6.3.9 Loss of Cultural Resources
Impact: The entire southern African coastal zone has a wealth of archaeological deposits, mainly found as surface shell middens, to a lesser extent cave deposits, and shipwrecks. Onshore, poorly planned access roads, camps and processing areas can inadvertently destroy middens constituting a significant loss to cultural heritage. Within the surf zone, shipwrecks are particularly vulnerable to mining disturbance. At least 2000 vessels are known to have sunk or run aground off South Africa’s shores since 1500 of which only a small fraction have been located. Surf zone mining, through displacement of obstacles such as boulders and suctioning of gravel, risks dispersing and breaking up shipwreck material. At present, the extent of damage to archaeological deposits has not been quantified.
Mitigation: Historically, mining companies have not had a responsible attitude towards protection of cultural resources. This is probably due mainly to the freedom the mining industry has enjoyed as South Africa’s and Namibia’s most important economic sector and the lack of environmental controls exerted on the industry until recently. In South Africa, negligence towards cultural resources has been partially encouraged by legislation that excludes diamond mining from the regulations under the Environmental Conservation Act on the use of off-road vehicles, and to portions of the National Monuments Act. This situation is changing, especially amongst the larger mining companies, who are demonstrating greater environmental responsibility in this regard by commissioning archaeological surveys prior to expanding their mining activities. Some companies, however, still have far to go in this regard.