Seven more killed as illegal mining continues
Seven illegal miners have died and 12 have been wounded in a clash in a mine shaft in Brakpan North, on the East Rand.
The other 11 rescued had injuries, including gunshot wounds, and some needed amputations.
Emergency services were alerted to the violence at the mine on Sunday.
Mamaila said shots were fired during an underground clash between two groups of illegal miners on Thursday.
On Monday, the death toll was sitting at four, they were apparently shot dead by a rival gang – were still trapped underground at Shaft 7 of the Aurora Mine.
It is alleged that 14 other unaccounted for illegal miners were still underground.
The illegal miners went underground on Wednesday last week.
According to Ekurhuleni Emergency Management Services, the clash happened between illegal miners from Zimbabwe and Lesotho.
“The people who are used to illegally mine at this place say the Russians (from Lesotho) do not dig for gold and wait for the Zimbabweans to dig and violently take the gold from them, “Shots were fired during an underground clash” EMS spokesperson Rogers Mamaila said.
The illegal miners normally stay for days or weeks underground and only surface when they had found something to sell.
That was when the other gang attacked and robbed them of whatever they had found, witnesses said.
Emergency rescuers were by late yesterday trying to free illegal miners who were still trapped underground amid fears over their safety.
A number of people, including relatives, converged on the scene, waiting anxiously for the men to be brought to the surface.
Christina Kunene said: “My brother is one of the four who have been killed. Apparently he was shot by the other gang. After I got the news I rushed here to see if it was true.”
“Illegal mining is problematic across Africa, with between 20 t to 40 t of the 100 t of gold mined on the continent each year by artisanal miners, extracted through illegal means, and possibly fuelling conflict on the continent”, Rand Refinery CEO Howard Craig stated at the Mining Indaba in February.
Mining Weekly.com reported thatGold giant AngloGold Ashanti’s executive VP Africa Robert Duffy said his company estimated that between 25 kg and 35 kg of gold was mined monthly by artisanal miners in Tanzania alone.
“It is extremely difficult to determine the scale and the output of these artisanal miners, as they are all unregulated.”