South African president deploys army to tackle illegal mining

South African president deploys army to tackle illegal mining
A file image dated 25 May 2015 shows illegal Zimbabwean gold miners, Rooi Mpofu (R) and Sherphard Sibanda (L) climbing down an old rope as they enter a disused commercial gold mine to start another shift of illegal gold mining near Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa. EPA/KIM LUDBROOK

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 9 (Reuters) - South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has authorised the deployment of 3,300 army personnel to help combat illegal mining activities, Ramaphosa's office said in a statement on Thursday.

The deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), which is expected to cost about 492 million rand ($26 million), is aimed at maintaining law and order under “Operation Prosper”, Vincent Magwenya, Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, said in the statement.

The SANDF was previously deployed in 2019 to the Western Cape province to fight gang violence under the same operation.

“Members of the SANDF will, in cooperation with the South African Police Service, conduct an intensified anti-criminality operation against illegal mining across all provinces, from 28 October 2023 until 28 April 2024,” the presidency said.

Mining industry body The Minerals Council South Africa says illegal mining takes place at both disused and active mines and has dimmed South Africa’s attractiveness as an investment destination.

It says it costs operating mines as much as 7 billion rand annually and the economy tens of billions of rand more in lost export earnings, taxes and royalties.

(Reporting by Tannur Anders and Nelson Banya; Editing by Bhargav Acharya and Alexander Winning)


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  • Jack Russell says:

    3 000 people, 3 000 salaries, zero production.
    And worse, they’ll soon start doing deals with the illegal miners.
    SA? It’s just a long, long nightmare with no happy ending to wake up to?

  • Michael Pampallis says:

    Can somebody explain to me why the mining of disused mines (by mainly desperate unemployed people I imagine) costs operating mines money or makes SA an unattractive investment destination. Surely it is beneficial to work these abandoned mines and all it needs is some oversight for security/safety and tax reasons. Or am I missing something?

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