Amajuba looks to mining to lift economy

THE Amajuba district municipality in Newcastle, northern KwaZulu-Natal, is embarking on a massive programme to revitalise its unused mines to boost the local economy.

Although the district is known for producing coal and iron ore, residents have been living in abject poverty since the closure of the mines in the early 1980s, as thousands of people were left jobless.

Leaders in the area are now working closely with the national Department of Minerals and Energy to restore the mining industry by recruiting local youth.

Nonkululeko Mabanga, of Youth in Mining in the province, said they were working with the municipality to introduce viable programmes for the youth.

She encouraged them to grab the opportunity with both hands.

"We have a huge challenge of trying to convince the local youth about the opportunities in mining," Mabanga said.

She said they were working very hard to ensure that local youth took part in the programmes so they could benefit from the economic spin-offs associated with mining.

Municipality mayor Mkhulu Mlangeni said they had come with the idea to restore mining in the area because of the high levels of poverty in the region.

"The youth can do more in the economic development of the region by taking part in mining programmes that we have as a municipality.

"We want them to play an important role in the upliftment of this area," he said.

Youth desk chairperson Xoli Tsotetsi said they understood the challenges facing youth in the area.

She said most youngsters resorted to crime and drugs because they were not exposed to job opportunities that would keep them busy and take their minds off crime.

"We will be implementing a number of programmes for the benefit of the youth in this region."