NGO Action Aid has appealed to government to decriminalise illegal mining in South Africa. The organisation says this will help reduce violence in the sector, create employment and contribute to the country’s economy.

These remarks are contained in the organisation’s report, which was released in Johannesburg on Thursday.

The report emanates from a study of over 1 000 artisanal miners in Kimberley, Carletonville and Vlakfontein.

It was aimed at obtaining insight into the challenges facing illegal miners or Zama Zamas and Artisanal mining sector.

Contrary to popular belief, the study found that majority of the artisanal and illegal miners were South Africans followed by Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Malawian nationals.

Many of the miners make between R10 000 and R50 000 a month with the money spent on local businesses for basic necessities.

The report says through the formalisation of the illegal mining sector, many of the Zama Zamas could be assisted to form cooperatives and start mining legally on some of the 6 000 abandoned mines across the country.