DMRE has until end of September for zama zama intervention strategy

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Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has given the Minerals and Resources Department until the end of September to report back to them on the urgent interventions they need to take to deal with the issue of illegal mining in the North West and Gauteng.

This comes after the committee’s four-day oversight visit to the affected areas during the weekend.

Close to 100 Zama Zamas have been arrested in Gauteng alone this month.

Over 500 abandoned mines are still being mined illegally. This has laid bare the mammoth task the police have at hand. The portfolio committee says, however, illegal mining is a problem that needs a multi-pronged approach.

Committee Chairperson Sahlulele Luzipo says, “Each department has been doing their own thing when the actual problem is a chain. So we first said, it’s nice now that we have an overarching plan with four pillars that they are working on. DMRE, we want a 30-day report by 30th September.“

He says illegal mining is costing the country billions of rand. “A lot of revenue is lost in SA of R7 billion annually due to illegal mining. In 2019 illegal mining cost the country R49 billion and the industry lost R2 billion. The predominant form of illegal mining is the Zama Zamas, due to the degree of high criminality, murder and rape.“

A review of existing legislation has also been mooted as key loopholes in the mining legislations have contributed to the problem.

Artisanal mining expert Kgothatso Nhlengetwa says, “There are many loopholes in the system that makes it difficult to take control of the illegal mining issue. The mine close was done in 1990 before the DMRE act and that meant we couldn’t find the owners of those old and derelict mines and that’s one of the biggest problems because of a lack of accountability as DMRE doesn’t have the capacity to do so in financial resources and personnel”

While the Hawks and the SAPS have set up dedicated task force units to deal with the illegal mining issue, calls are also mounting for the army to be deployed.