In a statement announced recently, the DMR outlined some of the measures in detail, outlined below.
The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) initiated a comprehensive research programme in the year 2000 on derelict and ownerless (D&O) mines in order to.
Given the health and environmental concerns related to asbestos mines, the rehabilitation of former asbestos mining areas remains the highest priority for rehabilitation; followed by the sites proximal to communities, with the greatest risk to the health, safety and environment.
To date the department has rehabilitated 20 asbestos sites on behalf of the state and sealed about 200 mine holdings in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.
This number is inclusive of Langlaagte West Deep Shaft that was prioritised for rehabilitation ahead of other Langlaagte Shafts since it is located within a settlement area and posed potential risk to members of the surrounding community.
Small scale mining (SSM)
It is now commonly accepted that small-scale and artisanal mining has enormous potential for absorbing greater numbers of people in productive employment in SA and most of the countries in Africa.
There are indications that the sector can be made to operate in an environmentally, friendly and sustainable way according to the DMR.
The process of strengthening the sector should use the integrated problem solving approach so that all the issues affecting and inhibiting the development of the sector are given due attention.
The issues can be tackled under four broad categories; namely policy and legislation, institutions, support programme, research and development.
Within the DMR there is a division dedicated to SSM promotion, specifically focused on surface mining, i.e sand, aggregates, alluvial gold and alluvial diamond mining.
The SSM division assists, those in need, in the permit application process.
“The zama – zama operations in old derelict and ownerless gold mines that fall beyond the scope of the SSM division remain a challenge,” says the DMR.
Measures in place to combat illicit mining
Gauteng Province Illegal Mining Stakeholder Forum
The DMR established a stakeholder forum named Gauteng Illegal Mining Stakeholder Forum (GIMSF) in Gauteng Province in 2012 for the purpose of implementing measures to ultimately eradicate illegal mining activities.
The above mentioned stakeholder forum meet once a month and comprise of the DMR, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the South African Police Service (SAPS) [i.e. Directorate for Priority Crimes and Investigation (DPCI)], Visible Policing (VISPOL) and Crime Intelligence (CI)], the South African Diamond and Precious Metals Regulator (SADPMR), the Department of Home Affairs (DoH), Council for Geoscience (CGS), Mine Health and Safety Council, the affected municipalities, the affected mining companies and mines organised labour.
The stakeholder forums are being facilitated by the DMR and report their activities to the National Co-ordination Strategic Management Team (NCSMT).
The forums have an action plan that is currently being implemented to combat illegal mining.
Some of the measures implemented to eradicate the illegal operations include:
- Promotion of legitimate mining
- Rehabilitation of derelict mines and sealing of holes
- Law enforcement and forensic analysis
- Policing and law enforcement
- Law enforcement training workshops on illegal mining
National Co-ordination Strategic Management Team (NCSMT)
As a result of the increased illegal mining activities in Mpumalanga, Free State, Gauteng and Northern Cape provinces, the DMR took the initiative and made a presentation on the extent and impact of illegal mining to the Justice Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cabinet Committee.
After the presentation, the Justice and Crime Prevention and Security Ministers directed that relevant departments be brought on board and this led to the establishment of the multi-agency National Co-ordination Strategic Management Team (NCSMT) in June 2010.
Furthermore, given the cross-cutting nature of the issues involved in illegal mining, the ministers mandated the NCSMT to develop a strategy to address the problems associated with illegal mining.
The NCSMT was established specifically to co-ordinate government’s efforts to fight illegal mining and the trafficking of precious metals.
Other objectives of the NCSMT include bringing about successful prosecution of illegal mining cases, produce policy designed to lead to legislative reform, put in place a strategy to end the illicit trade in precious metals and to increase capacity to deal with illegal mining.
The NCSMT meets once every month, facilitated by the DPCI and coordinated by NICOC.