South African mining house Kalagadi Manganese has launched an enterprise development programme in Kuruman, Northern Cape that seeks to empower local communities.

In partnership with the Department of Mineral Resources, Kalagadi contracted a group made up of eight women and two men in an initiative that will see them being equipped with financial, business and managerial skills.

Women in mining

Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources, Godfrey Oliphant highlighted how this will assist women who want to play a role in the mining sector.

“This initiative is one of the interventions that seeks to correct this anomaly and ensure that women are a critical mass across the value chain of the industry,” said Oliphant in a media briefing on Thursday.

Contractors for Kalagadi

The group will be registered as a cooperative and will be contracted to the mine to clean and collect spill-overs of manganese from Kalagadi’s mining operations to be repatriated back for processing.

“As we grow our operations, we also need to empower local communities by fostering a culture of entrepreneurship,” commented Kalagadi Manganese chairperson Daphne Mashile-Nkosi.

“Studies indicate that small- and medium-sized enterprises are the engines of economic growth and we believe that this intervention by Kalagadi Manganese and the Department of Mineral Resources will further revitalise the local economy and empower these men and women by giving them a solid foundation to become future industrialists,” she said.

Skills development

Provided by the South African Precious Diamond Regulators, the training which started in June 2014 also includes skills on how to identify different grades of manganese to ensure that the identified candidates are equipment with the necessary skills and understanding of the environment they are working in.

Premier of the Northern Cape Sylvia Lucas said that mining is one of the key industries in the Northern Cape.

“It is gratifying to see the Department of Mineral Resources and Kalagadi Manganese turning the ideals of the Mining Charter into reality by empowering aspirant entrepreneurs. This will bode well not only for these entrepreneurs, but for the local economy and the province as well,” she said.

Manganese exploration

A recent exploration programme undertaken by Kalagadi has identified a mineral resource of 102 million tonnes in the Kalahari Basin.

The three farms on which the company holds new order mining rights are believed to overly some 960 million tonnes of manganese ore. The company is 50% held by steel producer ArcelorMittal.