Hawks bust illegal gold refine

Witwatersrand gold-bearing ore. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Hawks bust illegal gold refinery operating on the East Rand

Ten tons of gold-bearing material seized and two people arrested at illegal gold-processing facility.

Hawks bust illegal gold refine

Witwatersrand gold-bearing ore. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Hawks say they have dismantled an illegal gold refinery operating in the former gold mining town of Springs on the East Rand.

Members of the Hawks Serious Organised Crime Investigation unit, backed by the Springs Public Order Policing unit, raided the gold processing facility on Thursday and arrested two men aged 22 and 27, who were busy processing the gold.  

Part of an intelligence-driven operation

The officers also seized six homemade pendulums and about 10 tons of gold-bearing material, spokesperson Captain Ndivhuwo Mulamu said.

The raid was part of an intelligence-driven operation after the Hawks received information about illegal mining activities at Aston Lake, Endicott in Springs.

Both arrested men are expected to appear before the Springs Magistrates Court on Monday for illegally processing gold. Investigations are still continuing.

Illegal mining is an ongoing problem

Illegal mining is a large and ongoing problem on the East Rand, which was once one of the country’s gold-mining strongholds.

Formal commercial mining has now largely ceased, but the informal miners known as zama-zamas (a Zulu expression for ‘taking a chance’) frequently enter abandoned mines to search for smaller quantities of gold that remain.

The Minerals Council South Africa estimates seven tonnes of gold – from total national production of about 135 tonnes – is lost each year in the country to illegal mining.

Robs the coffers of billions of rands

“Illegal gold mining has plagued South Africa’s mining companies for decades, robbing the industry and state coffers of billions of rand through small-time pilfering as well as networks run by organised crime,” reports the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters.

“Illegal mining … is fuelled by highly organised dangerous, well-financed and complex local and international crime syndicates,” a spokesperson for the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy said in emailed comments to the foundation.