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Lesufi wants DMRE to hand over derelict mines to Gauteng govt

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi

13th July 2023

By: Darren Parker

Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

     

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Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi wants the empty and abandoned mines in Gauteng to be handed over to the provincial government so that they can be rehabilitated more swiftly.

“The mines that are abandoned and left in our province are not only causing pain but misery as well. We need to find a . . . solution to resolve this misery. From where we stand, we are ready. If you are ready, you are welcome to hand over these empty and abandoned mines to us.

"We really believe we can reposition them and provide the necessary assistance that is needed by our communities,” Lesufi said at a summit hosted by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) in Johannesburg on July 13.

The summit sought to gather mining industry stakeholders from both the private and public sectors to review and discuss the many challenges related to the Mineral Resources and Petroleum Development Act (MRPDA) in an effort to find solutions going forward.

Lesufi said that dealing with abandoned mines was important as it was linked to the ongoing and concentrated problem of illegal miners operating in the province.

“Hardly a week ago, we had to carry the bodies of 17 people that perished because of this illegal activity. This is the matter that needs your immediate attention and guidance. We are not prepared to leave the status quo unchallenged. We need to collectively apply our minds and find the mechanism for resolving this matter,” he told delegates.

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe responded to Lesufi’s request, implying that the rehabilitation was a big job and an arduous responsibility that he would happily have off his plate, stating that “… if you want to own empty and abandoned mines, we can give that to you with a smile.”

Currently, the DMRE receives about R140-million a year for the rehabilitation of mines. With this allocation, Mantashe maintained that the DMRE could only rehabilitate about three mines and seal off 40 shafts a year out of about 6 000 abandoned mines nationwide. He accused Lesufi of saying that the DMRE “does nothing”.

However, Mantashe implied that the problem of derelict mines had migrated westward since many of the old East Rand mines had now been filled in, and that Lesufi simply did not understand the problem nor the scale involved in dealing with the challenges.

Lesufi, meanwhile, stressed that Gauteng needed to present itself as a better investment destination, but that ongoing crime – including illegal mining, as well as robbery, rape, murder, vandalism and even kidnapping – needed to be addressed.

“Crime, corruption and lawlessness do not present our province as an attractive destination for those that are willing to invest in our country. A normal person will not respond by presenting their resources in our province. The issue of the zama-zamas is adding to that challenge. We need to confront crime head-on. If we can’t get it right in terms of fighting crime in Gauteng, we will not get South Africa right,” he said.

He noted that the Gauteng provincial government was taking its Department of Community Safety from a R700-million department to a R4.7-billion department. Part of this involved the installation of almost 8 400 new closed circuit television cameras across the province.

In addition, Lesufi said the provincial government was ready to supply citizens and businesses with e-panic buttons, which would enable them to instantly call for law enforcement support from wherever they were.

He also noted the recent procurement of six well-equipped helicopters for rapid crime response, as well as the employment of 6 000 additional young men and women to enter law enforcement, along with 150 new law enforcement vehicles.

“We are finalising all the necessary resources to use the relevant technology, including drones, to police areas that are very difficult to police. We've concluded a major discussion with satellite institutions across the globe to monitor certain areas like illegal mining, so that any activity that is taken there, we can respond,” Lesufi said.

On the back of his vision to fix crime in the province, Lesufi also took the opportunity to state his desire for the renowned yearly Investing in African Mining Indaba to come to Johannesburg rather than Cape Town, where it had been hosted for the past 29 years. The most recent Mining Indaba saw more than 9 000 delegates in attendance from around the globe.

“I hope and wish that the big one, the Mining Indaba, will one day come here. This is the real place and we need that Indaba,” he said.

Mantashe, however, laughed off the idea, implying that it was irrational to ask for the Mining Indaba to come to Gauteng when the province’s flagship mineral resource – gold – was in decline, even though the South African mining industry as a whole remained a sunrise industry.

He said that Lesufi’s idea to include community members in the Mining Indaba would not work, as the Indaba was for investors to come together and make deals. Another forum or event would need to be created for the engagement of community members.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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