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SA seals mines to curb illegal miners

24 May 2012
CAPE TOWN – South Africa has set up a task team to seal access points at mines in a bid to stem a resurgence in illegal mining, the Mineral Resources Minister said on Thursday.

On Wednesday at least three illegal miners were killed and 18 others trapped underground when a tunnel collapsed in a disused diamond mine in an area on the edge of Namaqualand Mines, which diamond giant De Beers is in the process of selling to miner Trans Hex.

"Illegal mining is starting to rear its ugly head again as illicit activities have recently been reported in the Northern Cape, Free State and Gauteng," Susan Shabangu said in a speech to Parliament.

She said government was concerned about the economic impact of illegal mining in South Africa, estimated to be R5-billion four years ago, in the world's top platinum and a major gold producer.

South Africa has the world's deepest gold mines, with old or abandoned shafts often worked by informal diggers, many of them migrants from Zimbabwe or Mozambique.