COSATU is alarmed by violence and criminality linked to illegal mining
4 August 2022
The Congress of South African Trade Unions is concerned by criminal conduct of illegal miners and the deteriorating security in many areas of the country, where illegal mining is taking place. The reports of gang violence and of armed gangs, raping people and shooting at the police should send the alarm bells ringing to our authorities. The federation has repeatedly called for action from our government to deal with this problem in the mining sector since 2017. The failure by government to deal with this scourge of illegal mining has emboldened the gangs operating these disused mines.
It is scandalous and criminal that nothing has been done about this despite a 2009 South African Human Rights Commission Report that revealed that these illegal miners were under the control of criminal syndicates. What makes matters worse is that the report also showed that these syndicates were working with the so-called legitimate companies to exploit these closed mines.
The government is also complicit in the current state of mines once mining companies have abandoned activities. Government is not compelling mines to rehabilitate their mines at the end of the life of the mine, this has resulted in the mines being let off the hook by government and allowed to leave mines unrehabilitated and unsealed. Mining companies have set aside funds for rehabilitation but due to abrupt halts to mining activity and winding up of the business of the mine through business rescue, this has meant that many gold mines have been left without the requisite mine rehabilitation.
The government programmes regulating and managing mine closures have been a spectacular failure. Many mines are being recklessly abandoned, with mine shafts left open, resulting in illegal mining and the development of acid mine water. Our government needs to do more to monitor the implementation of the current financial assurance policies that are meant to help with the rehabilitation of closed mines.