WEB OF CRIMINALITY
In addition to the professional syndicates that supported illegal miners, mine employees were often found to be collaborating with illegal miners
Photo by: Reuters
Illegal mining is by no means a victimless crime, as it costs South Africa an estimated R20-billion a year in lost mineral sales, taxes and royalties, diversified miner Sibanye protection services senior VP Nash Lutchman said last week.
Sibanye estimates that it has lost between 3% and 4% of its gold production to illegal miners, which equates to over R700-million in lost earnings.
In a presentation on the negative impact of illegal mining on the South African mining sector, he noted that the theft of copper, electricity cables, dragline cables, diesel and other materials prejudiced the economic viability of mining companies and posed a serious risk to mining infrastructure.
“Illegal mining also results in a significant increase in security costs, as well as work stoppages and, therefore, production is adversely affected,” Lutchman stated.
He added that illegal mining caused “unquantified” environmental and social costs.
Lutchman lamented that, in addition to the professional syndicates that supported illegal miners, mine employees were often found to be collaborating with illegal miners.
Further, he said it was unlikely that operating mines would partner with illegal miners, as had been proposed by some parties as a way to regulate the practice.
“Right-sized employee teams would also hamper operating mines from partnering with illegal miners’ cooperatives in terms of existing surface and underground plans and production profiles.”
However, Lutchman remarked that some operating mines could partner with illegal mining cooperatives, but only “within a well defined set of rules”.
Sibanye has set a target of clearing all illegal miners from its shafts by January 2018.
Last month, some 461 illegal miners were arrested at its Cooke operation.