By Irene !Hoaes
The Erongo Region Small Scale Miners Association (ERSSMA) has received N$8,3 million from the European Commission (EC) to enable them to effectively mine tourmaline gemstones in the region.
The money was channelled through the National Planning Commission to the Erongo Regional Council, which also contributed 5 percent towards the N$8,3 million
The Erongo Region’s stakeholders forum, including some mines in the region and constituency councillors, mines ministry, Geological Survey of Namibia and the small miners themselves, approached the EC on behalf of the small miners and successfully secured the grant.
The small miners are currently mining the tourmaline stones without proper equipment using rudimentary equipment such as ‘koevoets’ and hammers for the past 13 years or more, while some of the equipment is even handmade.
Some of the self-employed miners, who come from other parts of the country, have been camping along the Karibib-Otjimbingwe gravel road and walk to the nearby mountains – as far as 20 km – every morning to mine the gemstones.
The gems are mined at privately owned farm Neue Schwaben.
“We are working under harsh conditions without water. We use water that gathers in the holes that we dig for our daily use,” said August Tsowaseb, a miner at the site.
Tsowaseb said they need machinery, especially to clean up the area and move some of the earth they dig out.
“It is good business if you are lucky. Sometimes you can get up to N$6?