The inside story of South Africa's illegal mining boom
'They are geniuses. They have engineers‚ communications specialists‚ people who can create special lighting systems. They operate with intricate buying and selling networks'
Across South Africa‚ mining towns are under siege from illicit syndicates. Employing thousands of desperate jobseekers‚ these syndicates‚ who earn billions of rand annually through the illegal sale of precious metals and diamonds‚ are in fierce competition with global mining giants. There are no shortages of workers‚ who flock to South Africa in their droves from impoverished towns and villages in neighbouring Zimbabwe‚ Lesotho and Mozambique. Up for grabs are over 6‚000 disused gold‚ diamond‚ chrome and platinum mines spread across South Africa. A big driver of illegal mining is rising commodity prices. It is estimated that about 10% of South Africa's gold production is stolen and smuggled out of the country - about R7-billion a year. With a workforce 30‚000 strong - equivalent to the population of a small mining town such as Carletonville on the West Rand - the syndicates’ operations run day and night. So competitive is the battle for the minerals that according to the Chamber of ...
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