In order to work as a professional geologist in South Africa, you need to be registered with the South African Council for Natural and Scientific Professions (SACNASP). SACNASP is the regulatory body, and registration is a legal requirement. There is a SACNASP website where you can get all information needed to apply for registration (www.sacnasp.org.za). The Geological Society of South Africa (GSSA; www.gssa.org.za) is not the regulatory body, but is the professional membership based society that promotes geology and the geological professions within the country. Furthermore, the GSSA is the ‘Voluntary Association’ for earth and geological sciences within SACNASP, and routinely assists with SACNASP registration applications in the earth sciences. The GSSA has representation on the SACNASP council. Membership of the Geological Society is therefore not a legal requirement whereas registration with SACNASP is. Membership of the GSSA thus provides you with professional status because as a member of the GSSA, your qualifications will have been carefully scrutinised and you are subject to the GSSA Code of Ethics. However it does not replace the statutory requirement for registration with SACNASP
In the past year, the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa has become much stricter about issuing work visas. The Department has put together a list of scarce skills, in which geology and various earth science fields are listed (Republic of South Africa Government Gazette vol. 588, notice 37716, June 3, 2014). Home Affairs passes critical skills visa applications on to SACNASP to ensure applicants are registered or in the process of registration, and to obtain an assessment from the regulatory body as to whether the skills sets may be deemed critical skills if a critical skills visa application is being submitted. SACNASP passes these applications to their various voluntary associations for assessment; the GSSA normally receives and assists with processing the geology applications. The GSSA cannot issue critical skills certificates.
SAQA is the South African Qualifications Authority, and its main function as far as registration and visa applications are concerned is to provide the framework in terms of which qualifications standards are set. It also provides a reference framework in terms of which international qualifications may be validated. SAQA assessment of degrees is a requirement for SACNASP registration. The GSSA refers to SAQA if we are not familiar with the universities an applicant has graduated from, or if there is a need to validate degree certificates that are submitted during the application process.
In terms of Public Resource and Reserve Reporting Competent Person status (CP) usually refers to the requirements specified in the Samcode family of codes and as specified in the rules of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. In South Africa, the Samcode reporting codes include SAMREC (reporting of exploration targets, mineral resources and mineral reserves), SAMVAL (reporting of mineral asset valuation) and the newer SAMOG (reporting of oil and gas resources). The codes have been devised and implemented by the Samrec and Samval Committee including the two patron associations namely, the GSSA and Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (SAIMM); see www.samcode.co.za. These are largely based on the international JORC and CRIRSCO codes, and the key requirements for CP’s is that they are members of a relevant professional association, including the GSSA, and have a minimum of five years’ experience in the mineralisation style and type of work for which they are responsible.