MAPUTO, It has become imperative for Mozambique to improve the quality of life of artisanal miners and seek strategic responses to the social challenges posed by such small-scale mining, says Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Augusto Fernando.

Speaking at the opening of a Southern African Regional Seminar on Training in the Areas of the Environment, Community, Health and Safety in the Mining Sector here Monday, Fernando said that artisanal mining “normally operates on the margins of the formal economy and of the legal framework”.

Accidents had occurred frequently in artisanal mines, and this type of mining “is characterized by low productivity and defective measures of health, safety and environmental impact”. It was therefore necessary to seek ways of making this type of mining sustainable, particularly in terms of the safety of the miners, and minimizing the environmental damage it causes, he said.

The theme of the seminar, Fernando said, “seeks to rise to the challenge of building the capacity of the public sector and other stakeholders involved in the extractive industry, and particularly small scale mining which is at the basis of the livelihood of many households”.

“Our vision is that the development of strategic management of artisanal and small-scale mining, in which responsibilities are defined for all stakeholders, is crucial for formalizing this sub-sector and making it sustainable,” he added.

Mining output grew by about 15 per cent in Mozambique last year, while exports grew around 33 per cent. The main components of this growth were the titanium bearing heavy mineral sands at Moma, in the northern province of Nampula, the coal of Moatize in Tete province, and natural gas in the southern province of Inhambane.