CFO Dean Subramanian calls to mining industry to help local jewellers

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Dean unpacks the urgency behind localisation, and how Rand Refinery is helping grow the agenda.

On 17 March, Rand Refinery CFO Dean Subramanian called on the gold and silver beneficiation industry to work with the mining industry to ensure the localisation of jewellery manufacturing in South Africa.

He explained that almost 80 percent of the country’s jewellery is imported, saying: “There’s lots of excuses in South Africa around why we don’t have the skills. But if you look at the success of South African companies around the world, we do have the skills and I think we just need to make sure that the legislation is in place.”

Dean believes that the only way to address this is if the gold and silver beneficiation industry implements stronger localisation laws in order to protect local economic development of SMMEs who participate in the sector.

On 17 March, while speaking at a ceremony for the graduates of Rand Refinery’s Silver and Gold Mentorship Programme and Intsika, Dean said that the new round of graduates would contribute to increasing employment and local beneficiation capacity in the downstream jewellery manufacturing and design industry.

However, he added that it was not just up to them but to the broader mining industry. “The aim now is to ramp up industry support with an optimised curriculum.”

The Silver and Gold Mentorship Programme is an enterprise development partnership between Rand Refinery, Ekurhuleni Jewellery Project (EJP), jewellery retailer NQ Jewellers, and industry body South African Diamond and Precious Metals Regulator, which was initiated in 2021.

Starting this year, the Jewellery Manufacturing Learnership for learners living with disabilities will be integrated into EJP as an extension of the jewellery learnership. The learners will get an opportunity to progress into the Silver Mentorship Programme for further development.

Dean explained that Rand Refinery has also made 937 grams of gold, valued at R700,000, available to SMMEs who meet the compliance criteria. This, he said, will bring more diversity and opportunity into the economy.

Dean said that the temptation for cheaper gold or silver is always prevalent. He warned that SMMEs should refrain from faltering in their business by being lured into the world of using materials from illegal mining or refined scrapped with unknown provenance.

He added that the jewellery industry commands a high level of trust, governance and compliance, but he warned of “bad actors who wittingly contaminate the ecosystem with materials of questionable provenance”.

Further capital investment will also be made into the EJP technical and commercial campus to modernise the facility with cutting edge jewellery technology. This will accommodate students with disabilities and provide best-practice jewellery technical training.

Another highlight was the introduction of a market access avenue with the launch of the Jewellery Village store at Montecasino, Johannesburg.

The new curriculum will cover technical sales and marketing, unique design criteria and the provision of a gold loan, together with further capital investment. Together, the tools and skills learners get from the programme will help them succeed in growing the marketplace for well-made beneficiated goods.

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