Combating illegal mining major issue for department

The Department of Mineral Resources is concerned about the proliferation of illegal mining and has adopted a three pronged approach to combat it, Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane said yesterday.

Illegal miners operate in all provinces except the Western Cape and several have died in their attempts to extract gold, chrome, coal and sand – sand on the Eastern Cape coast line and in the rivers of KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo.

Illegal miners’ activities often result in underground fires, rock falls and compromised surface infrastructure, and the degradation of the environment.

Zwane and acting director general David Msiza, briefing parliament’s mineral resources committee, said more than 30 cases of illegal mining had been investigated by the department’s enforcement and compliance division.

The department’s approach involves promoting legitimate small-scale mining, mine rehabilitation and law enforcement.

The government has also established an enforcement agency to coordinate its efforts to fight illegal mining and the trafficking of precious metals.

Msiza said the department, through the Council for Geoscience, had closed 200 open shafts, while mining companies had sealed 80 open shafts.

Arrests had been made including top mine management, personnel, state officials and some “kingpins”.

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