Zama Zamas cost SA R41bn in 2018

The illicit mining industry is a well-oiled machine that's costing the South African economy billions. Courtesy #DStv403

BENONI - Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe says the illicit mining industry is a well-oiled machine that cost South Africa R41-billion in 2018 alone.

In 2014, Sibanye Gold reportedly spent R75-million trying to combat illegal mining.

"You see last year we lost R41-billion on illicit precious metals. That is a sizeable amount from a country like ours,” Mantashe said.

“That leakage will have to be closed one way or another."

EXCLUSIVE: Zama zama’s violent world

While the officials seek solutions to illegal mining, the Zama Zamas' battle for territory continues - underground.

Attempts to manage illegal trade in gold are being addressed.

Mantashe wants to establish a police unit targeting these crimes but the Zama Zamas say they have corrupt police officers in their pockets, which could hamper these efforts.

"The agreement is that every day the police have to come - we have to give them something, we have to give them money,” said an illegal miner who wished to remain anonymous.

“If they come and they say they don’t want money we have to give them staff, maybe two bags per day."

READ: NGO calls for zama-zamas to be legalised

Authorities have begun to issue diamond-mining permits to Zama Zamas in the Northern Cape but efforts to regulate the illegal gold mining industry still have some way to go and until then, the violence of this illegal underground network is likely to continue.

eNCA reporter Nqobile Madlala got an exclusive interview with one of the illegal mining bosses.