Officials blame 'poor implementation of legislation' for illegal mining

Officials say illegal mining it's an organised crime involving people who are unemployed and desperate to earn a living and put food on the table.

Illegal miners emerge from Langlaagte Mine after being underground for more than two weeks. Picture: Kgothatso Mogale.

JOHANNESBURG – The Gauteng Community Safety Department says one of the problems that contribute to illegal mining is the failure by the Mineral Resources Department to properly implement mining legislation.

Illegal mining has been identified as a national threat, with government battling to stop it.

Officials say it's an organised crime involving people who are unemployed and desperate to earn a living and put food on the table.

Provincial Community Safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane hosted a roundtable discussion with mine management, mine owners, researchers and police in Kempton Park on Tuesday to address the dangers of illegal mining in Gauteng.

Research done by Nkosi-Malobane's team has shown that there is about 6,000 abandoned mines across South Africa.

It has been estimated that about 600 of these mines are in Gauteng.

Gauteng Community Safety Department senior researcher Arnold Phala says the national government needs to do more.

“The Department of Mineral Resources, as a custodian of mineral resources in the country, we believe is not adequate or sufficient. It is there, but it’s not adequate in terms of making sure that mining companies adhere to legislation.”

The department's Mpho Ditlhakanyane has admitted that there are problems with implementation.

The value of gold lost through this organised crime has been estimated at R5.6 billion per annum, and officials have argued that this could actually be more.