Two illegal miners have died in an incident at an abandoned mine between the villages of Xikukwani and Mavalane, near the town of Giyani in northeastern Limpopo Province, South Africa, on Saturday 22 September 2018. The men were discovered after local residents alerted police that they had got into trouble after entering the mine, prompting a rescue team to be sent to the site. The bodies of the two men were found in the mine, plus a third man, who was taken to hospital for medical attention and then arrested. Only one of the dead men has been identified, Patson Mbhiza, 33, from Mavalani Village.
The entrance to an abandoned mine near Giyani in Limpopo Province, South Africa, where two illegal miners were found dead on 22 September 2018. South African Police Service.
South Africa has a long history of strife over mining, largely relating to the exploitation of resources by large foreign companies and the relatively poor remuneration of mineworkers and communities that have lost land to mines, disputes that are intimately connected to the long term struggle against against the Apartheid system in the country. However illegal mining is seen as a relatively new problem, which authorities have yet to catch up with. As well as being a loss of revenue to the state, illegal mines do not comply with South Africa's environmental and health and safety laws, and can therefore present a threat to communities close to the operations, as well as miners employed at the sites, particularly if gold is being worked, since the quickest and cheapest way to separate gold from ore involves the use of (highly toxic) mercury. Aggregates (sand and gravel) used in the building industry are also considered a problem, as indiscriminate mining can lead to the destruction of natural habitats and farmland, as well as hastening soil and river erosion.
A rescue worker at an abandoned mine near Giyani in Limpopo Province, South Africa, where two illegal miners were found dead on 22 September 2018. South African Police Service.
Follow Sciency Thoughts on Facebook.