Another illegal miner found dead in gold mine

JOHANNESBURG ( – The body of another illegal miner had been found dead in the underground Sheba mine in Barberton belonging to the London AIM- and JSE-listed Pan African Resources. Barberton Mines GM Casper Strudom told Mining Weekly Online by phone from the mine that the presence of the body of the unidentified dead illegal miner had been reported to the police on Monday.

A spokesperson at Pan African’s offices in Johannesburg said that Pan African CEO Jan Nelson was on his way to Barberton when Mining Weekly Online called.

Strydom said the he was unsure whether this was another death related to fighting between rival criminal-miner gangs laying claim to the mine’s richest gold seams.

“Over and above the criminal-mining scourge, which is huge in itself, there are now rogue elements who are robbing and killing people on surface. We continually ask for assistance, but criminal mining continues,” said Strydom, who estimated that 40 illegal miners had died at the Barberton mines this year.

“Police still don’t go underground to investigate, and the situation is worsening, which is why we are employing a lot more security to fight this,” Strydom added.

Nelson told Mining Weekly Online earlier this year that Interpol was investigating the link of criminal mining in South Africa to international terrorism, human trafficking and money laundering.

New South African legislation introduced in Parliament earlier this year makes illegal mining a criminal offence and the South African courts now recognise illegal mining as organised crime. South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations, the Hawks, are reportedly investigating criminal mining syndicates.

Criminal diggers are armed, with intergang shootouts a regular occurrence.

The last reported official criminal-miner death toll of 124 as at October 12, 2009, is more than 15 times the eight criminal-miner deaths of 2008, and more than three times higher than the 36 of 2007.

“We are contributing $7/oz to fighting these criminals,” Nelson has told Mining Weekly Online.


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