Welcome to the latest issue of MINE Magazine.

This month, we look at the age-old question of artisanal mining in detail. Using South Africa as an example, we consider why regulation and formalisation are the only practical steps to help create a viable and profitable industry, and look ahead to what a more structured small-scale mining sector could look like. 

However, this is not likely to be a simple progress, not least because of well-established tensions between large-scale miners and small-scale operators, many of whom are in direct competition for the same mineral deposits. With the South African Government caught somewhere in the middle – eager to create an attractive industry for foreign investment on the one hand, and a duty to provide work and wages to its people on the other – challenges remain for all levels of the country’s artisanal mining sector. 

Elsewhere, we look ahead to what the global mining industry could look like as the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic begin to diminish, and we speak to a group of researchers about a new copper exploration “toolkit” that could help companies find new deposits of this increasingly critical mineral. 

We also consider some of the biggest ESG challenges facing the mining sector. We assess whether some of the world’s largest miners are following through on their admirable, if lofty, commitments, and revisit the Donlin gold mine in Alaska, which could set a new precedent for mining, as a large-scale project that has received some support from local indigenous groups. 

For all this and more, read on.

JP Casey, editor