Lesotho Joins IGF as 74th Member, Aims to Improve Regulatory Framework of Diamond Sector
The Government of Lesotho expressed its commitment to responsible governance of the mining sector by joining the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF).
“We are pleased to welcome Lesotho as the 74th member of the IGF,” said Greg Radford, IGF Director.
“Every nation that joins the Forum brings a unique perspective and adds depth to the dialogue. We look forward to Lesotho’s participation and applaud their efforts to leverage mining for sustainable development.”
The IGF is a voluntary partnership that welcomes any member state of the United Nations.
“Lesotho is currently in the midst of a regulatory framework review to align itself with the Minerals and Mining Policy, 2015—the first policy framework in Africa to adopt the attributes of the Africa Mining Vision—for more equitable and sustainable development. We hope to harness the international collaborative mechanism of the IGF to our best advantage in this crucial exercise,” said Pheello Tjatja, Commissioner of Mines.
The mining sector in Lesotho is showing signs of blossoming following a long hiatus period that started in the 1980s leading to the resurrection of diamond production in 2005 by the world-renowned Letšeng Diamond Mine. This new mining production brought a hive of activity that necessitated the formation of the Ministry of Mining in 2012 as a standalone entity from the Ministry of Natural Resources for better regulation and investment promotion in the mining sector.
Diamonds are the backbone of the mining sector, which also includes industrial minerals such as dolerite, sandstone, clay and sand. The geology shows possibilities of oil and coal, which could further enhance the mineral potential of the country. With the resurgence of diamond mining, the sector went from contributing a paltry 1 per cent of GDP to a more modest 8 per cent. In terms of production value, Lesotho is ranked seventh in the world and 10th in production volume.
There is still a lot of room for growth, taking into account that the country has the highest kimberlitic deposit concentration. Also in the pipeline is the implementation of a mining cadastre that will hopefully increase exposure and investment. With this in mind, Lesotho is looking to reformulate its mineral acquisition and governance laws as well as mine health and safety laws to provide a clear set of rules for locally beneficial and socially responsible mining. As the initial members of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, Lesotho is already committed to preventing blood diamonds and is looking to complement this by promoting ethical and environmentally sound mineral exploitation.
The IGF supports more than 70 nations committed to leveraging mining for sustainable development to ensure that negative impacts are limited and financial benefits are shared. It is devoted to optimizing the benefits of mining to achieve poverty reduction, inclusive growth, social development and environmental stewardship. The International Institute for Sustainable Development has served as Secretariat for the IGF since October 2015. Core funding is provided by the Government of Canada.
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