Special report: Too often the focus is on the negative aspects of mining, but what about the numerous benefits the industry can deliver to communities?

West Wits Mining (ASX:WWI) is one company demonstrating how its mine in South Africa is contributing positively to the community.

South Africa is still considered a developing country by the Australian government.

Much like other developing countries, South Africa is aiming to capitalise on its mining sector.

The country is looking to attract $US100 billion ($132.2 billion) in new investment and position its mining sector as a driver of economic recovery.

Newly installed President Cyril Ramaphosa wants to create a conducive investment climate in South Africa to attract significant foreign investment, with a balanced mining charter acceptable to all stakeholders.

Boosting local employment

One of the key benefits a mining project can deliver is an increase in local employment.

West Wits has already started small-scale mining in South Africa. Its goal is to become a mid-tier gold producer from a massive landholding in the Central Rand, which alone has produced over 247 million ounces.

The company remains focused on fast-tracking the Witwatersrand Basin project, which is now cash flow positive and self-sustaining, into full production.

West Wits already employs 20 to 25 locals on its mine site for security and logistics.

This is forecast to increase to 40 to 50 locals once the mining permits are granted and up to 500 to 1200 locals once West Wits is at full production.

West Wits' Mine manager Eddie with Chairman Michael Quinert hold a certificate of appreciation from the Mandelaville Crisis Centre for West Wits' contribution
West Wits’ Mine manager Eddie Milne with Chairman Michael hold a certificate of appreciation from the Mandelaville Crisis Centre for West Wits’ contribution

Sustainable farming

Open pit operations are progressively rehabilitating swathes of previously unusable land which with landowner agreements is earmarked for open space, parkland and sports and potential property development.

Some of the rehabilitated land will be used for market garden projects to produce vegetables and other agricultural products for local sale and consumption.

The rehabilitation of the land provides the opportunity for new industry, upskilling and job creation, a potential sustainable food supply and it gives the locals real ownership of the land.

This also frees up land for low cost and safe housing for local residents.

Success in reducing illegal mining

Land rehabilitation has also helped address the problem of illegal mining in South Africa.

Securing mining rights in South Africa is a rigorous process, as the regulator enforces tough environmental standards and consults widely with numerous stakeholders including community groups to ensure support.

West Wits says it has demonstrable evidence that it has the capacity to meet its environmental obligations through its ongoing rehabilitation of pits one and two at the Kimberley Central open-pit, known as the “Solplaatjies Pit”.

“To rehabilitate the area, we effectively open cut mine it, removing the top 20 to 30m of earth, which includes old mine shafts, and then back fill it,” said Simon Whyte.

Previously, the access holes – referred to as “holings” – made by the illegal miners were closed at the surface (2-3m) by means of concrete plugs (reinforced cement).

Mandelaville Crisis Centre
Mandelaville Crisis Centre

Despite these attempts to make the area safe, the illegal miners still dug holes next to the concreted plugs and continued with illegal mining.

The proposed mining of the opencast pits with the concurrent roll over rehabilitation method, as well as the infrastructure refurbishment and later at the end of the mine’s life, the dismantling and sealing of these shafts will remove easy access to the old mine workings that the illegal miners currently use.

“When we receive the mining permits and to a larger extent the mining right we will be able to broaden the area and effectively remove the ‘carrot’ to the illegal miners,” Mr Whyte explained.

“It will also allow an increase in legal employment to the local community.”

West Wits has also helped computer literacy by donating five computers to a local computer literacy training program.

The company also makes a monthly contribution to the community kitchen to provide daily meals for local school children.

West Wits is continuing to engage with local leaders to develop plans to support the community.


This special report is brought to you by West Wits Mining.

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