Mining

South Africa deploys army to tackle illegal mining

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa authorized the deployment of 3,300 soldiers in support of police efforts to curb illegal mining, his office said in a statement on Thursday.

The deployment will run until 28 April, and parliament’s defence committee is expected to approve the use of the army in the coming weeks.

The use of soldiers in a domestic law-enforcement role has occurred periodically in South Africa. The last such large-scale deployment occurred in 2021 to stem rioting and looting after the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma for defying a court order.

Illegal mining has been a mounting issue of concern for the South African government.

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe told lawmakers last year that illegal mining cost the economy R49 billion ($2.6 billion) in 2019 and caused mining companies to spend collectively about R2 billion annually on extra security.

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