South African black female miner, Olebogeng Sentsho, urged the government on Tuesday to meaningfully assist emerging miners with funding for greenfield exploration and drilling funding.

Greenfield exploration relies on the predictive power of ore genesis models to find mineral deposits in previously unexplored areas or in areas where they are not already known to exist. 

Sentsho impressed investors when she pitched for a R50 million investment at the annual African Mining Indaba 2018 in Cape Town. The 28-year-old runs a four-year-old tailings treatment and mining rehabilitation company, Yeabo Mining, in ownerless and derelict mines in Rustenburg.

In an interview with African News Agency (ANA), Sentsho said that she had to “literally” break down doors for people to take her seriously as a young black woman entrepreneur because the mining industry “is still populated by males from a different time and are uncomfortable with change”. 

“Funding is always a challenge and the mines are always reluctant to work with young people, which I don’t understand because I feel the one person you need to save your mine is a young person with fresh ideas,” Sentsho said.

“The IDC (Industrial Development Corporation)  won’t fund you at greenfields level and no one will fund you until you have a feasibility study. So there is this big gap of funding which we all fall into,” she said.

“And if the government could drill for us we would all be millionaires.”

Sifiso Nkosi, convener of the Junior Miners Forum, told a session at the indaba that the government was not creating enough business-to-business opportunities for smaller producers, and accused it of putting in place stringent requirements which only established mining houses could meet.

Nkosi singled out the department of trade and industry as the “the most impossible department” for junior producers to deal with. The department is mandated to assisting junior producers through its Mining Development Association.

 – African News Agency (ANA)