Some mining companies collude with zama zamas - SAHRC

2015-08-20 20:14


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg - Some mining companies collude with zama zamas (illegal miners) when it was not commercially viable to formally use mines belonging to them.

That's according to a report by the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

The report said companies sometimes "warehoused" a mine, instead of properly closing it down.

"Unregulated artisanal mining [independent mining] primarily takes place at mine sites that no longer see active operations by the formal mining sector.

"Sometimes these closures occur because of the fluctuations in the commodity prices and thus the owners terminate operations for a period in order to wait for prices to change, making sale or operations more viable," the SAHRC said in a statement on Thursday.

"There are companies that sometimes use 'warehousing' as a way to entice zama zamas into their closed sites to mine for product that is no longer financially viable to mine... and then collude with zama zamas to sell that product through legal channels, thereby evading tax."

It said the problem where cessation of operations happened in one area of a mine, while other areas within the mining right were still operational, had to be addressed.

"The commission... recommends that steps are urgently put in place to secure the necessary financial resources for proper closure requirements and rehabilitation."

'Very thin line between legal and illegal'

It said further studies needed to be done to trace the value chain of illegally mined precious metals.

"There is a very thin line between legal and illegal when it comes to moving, processing and selling illegally mined gold."

The commission's report followed a complaint and a subsequent hearing in Kommagas, Northern Cape, over an "artisanal mining tragedy" that happened at the Bontekoe mine.

In 2012, a tunnel at the temporarily closed De Beers Bontekoe mine site collapsed, resulting in the deaths of several informal miners.

"While there was confirmation that an investigation [by the mineral resources department] had commenced, each time the community tried to establish how far it had gone, [they] were informed that their concerns needed to be reported to the South African Police Service (SAPS) as all the activity on the site was 'illegal mining'."

'It will not go away through brute force'

It said the hearing "revealed" that in South Africa, artisanal mining "is not legally recognised, despite its growth and the potential opportunities it offers, economically and socially".

"Illegal artisanal mining will not go away of its own accord or through brute force. Lawlessness will mount, if the issue of illegal mining is not confronted," the SAHRC said.

"The commission recommends that in order to pursue a path of economic inclusion... there is a need for further research that identifies the size, shape, and scope of artisanal mining in the country.

"Without any comprehensive framework for improving the practices of artisanal mining, current characterisation simply as “illegal”, will have the effect, in terms of the panel’s prediction, of making artisanal mining more dangerous rather than causing it to disappear."

It said there was a need to "explore opportunities" for a framework partnership between zama zamas and large scale mining, particularly on those sites under the control of major mining houses that are no longer being used.

There also needed to be "engagement" into the development of a framework for "direct access to historically mined sites under the control of the state".

The SAHRC recommended that a final report into the Bontekoe mine incident be made available to the relevant communities, and a plan be put in place to deal with similar incidents that could possibly occur in other places around the country.

Read more on:    sahrc  |  johannesburg  |  illegal mining

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Financial advisors – Do you need one and should you get one?

The good, the bad, and everything else you need to know when considering hiring a financial advisor.


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.