Small-scale miners in the Erongo Region are struggling to keep their heads above water due to a shortage of equipment and hassles in selling the semi-precious stones they mine at market value.
Erongo Regional Small-Scale Miners' Association (Ersma) assistant coordinator Alfred George yesterday said the association is trying to address these problems by seeking assistance from stakeholders in the mining sector.
"We recently received funding from Finland as part of a three-year programme to develop the association and get ourselves more organised to assist the small-scale miners in the area," George said.
George said Ersma wants to regulate the sales process and create an international market so that the semi-precious stones mined by the association's members can be sold according to their actual value, and not for varying, negotiated prices.
He said small-scale miners desperate to sell their gemstones, mostly settle for any price offered to them by buyers currently.
"We want to sell them [the stones] outside the country. The findings of a research study done indicate that there is a big market outside Namibia for these precious stones mined in the Karibib area," George said.
Ersma was established in 2007, and was registered with the Ministry of Mines and Energy in 2008.
The primary objective of the association is to represent, protect and advance the interests of small-scale miners in the Erongo region.
Ersma also contributes towards the optimal and sustainable utilisation of minerals, manages the activities of the miners and promotes the socio-economic interest of its members.
The association has a technical committee which is responsible for plant and tool hire, while the land committee takes care of the working relationship between land owners and miners.
Its current membership consists of 11 groups, which include the Uis Gemstone Vendors, Omatjete Small-Scale Miners, Neuschwaben Association, Tubusis Small-Scale Miners and the Uiba-Oas Small-Scale Miners' Cooperative.