Following a clamp down on illegal mining in the mineral-rich Burgersfort area, residents in the area are calling for the government to give illegal miners in the area, mining licenses.
In the last week alone, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation known as the Hawks seized over R600 000 worth of chrome ore stockpiles at TjibengVillage in Mecklenburg.
The picturesque mountains of Sekhukhune have become home to illegal open-cast mining.
Big mining houses and locals are all digging for a share of the area’s rich chrome deposits.
On a good day, a wheelbarrow can sell for R100. This is how a mother of three has been surviving for the last eight years.
“I do illegal mining. We use peak to dig and sell it with a wheelbarrow because there are no jobs. Now, I stopped because the value is down. They (the government) must give us mining licenses,” says resident and illegal miner, Concilia Mojela.
The David and Goliath fight for the mineral wealth of this area has seen organisations such as Mining Affected Communities United in Action calling on the government to level the playing field and give licenses to the likes of Mojela.
They say they should also benefit from the mineral wealth of the land.
“I feel our government should legalise zama zama’s. And as affected communities, we are not regarding them as zama zama’s we regard them as artisan miners. So, we are pleading to our government to legalise artisanal miners to that the poverty can be covered in our area,” says Tokolo Mahlokoane of Mining Affected Communities United in Action.
While the cat-and-mouse game between illegal miners and government continues, the police special investigations unit, the Hawks, says it will be continuing clamping down on illegal mining within the area. This after a recent operation that saw R600 000 of illegally mined chrome ore being confiscated.
“We had disruptive operations as far as illegal mining is concerned, where we managed to seize a chrome ore with the estimation value of over R600 000. Unfortunately, no one was arrested but the mission of illegal miners was disrupted and we are still going to conduct more operations in the province to address illegal mining,” says Limpopo Hawks, Captain Matimba Maluleka.
Last month, Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Mining and Mineral Resources visited the area and acknowledged that they may need to look at fast-tracking license issues.
Leihlo La Sechaba – Illegal chrome mining, 02 March 2020: