Dr Bester has been working as a social researcher in the mining sector in South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She is an advisor to mining companies, with experience in the fields of Corporate Social Responsibility and Compliance.
Her doctorate study explored artisanal mining in South Africa, and the role that mining companies could play in developing the sector. The findings provide a new understanding of artisanal mining. Through uncovering the misconceptions, challenges and drivers of this marginalised and criminalised sector, the findings suggest that a change of thinking and wider engagement around artisanal mining are required. The theoretical domain of corporate social responsibility (CSR) offered particular possibilities for supporting and developing artisanal mining. A corporate social responsibility framework was therefore developed as the first comprehensive framework that mining companies can use to address artisanal mining in the South African context. The framework provides practical initiatives that could facilitate the regulation of artisanal mining, help improve the working conditions of artisanal miners, and improve the safety of women and children in the sector. The CSR framework could also help mitigate the risks posed to the formal sector, including the formal work force, the social impacts of artisanal mining, including violence, and its environmental impact, including mercury exposure. Developing the artisanal mining sector in this manner has the potential to create wider opportunities for historically disadvantaged South Africans to benefit from the country’s mineral resources.