Six years after Blyvooruitzicht gold mine closed its doors, illegal miners, also called zama zamas, have left an indelible mark. Every last bit of value has been stripped from the public infrastructure here. Buildings lie in ruins and wire gold pans are strewn among the rubble. The zama zamas themselves can be seen out in the open, usually walking with purpose and with ski masks over their faces. 

SA’s growing epidemic of illegal miners continues to take its toll on the local industry, which has prominently flagged this growing threat. According to research by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime, illegal gold mining has morphed into an industrial-scale black market that has caused SA to lose an estimated R14bn a year. 

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