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Ramaphosa Deploys Army To Tackle Illegal Mining

President Cyril Ramaphosa has authorised the deployment of 3 300 army personnel to help combat illegal mining activities, his office said in a statement on Thursday.

The deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), which is expected to cost about R492 million, was aimed at maintaining law and order under “Operation Prosper”, the president’s spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said in the statement.

The SANDF was previously deployed to the Western Cape in 2019 to fight gang violence under the same operation.

The Presidency said: “Members of the SANDF will, in cooperation with the South African Police Service, conduct an intensified anti-criminality operation against illegal mining across all provinces, from 28 October 2023 until 28 April 2024.”

The mining industry body, Minerals Council South Africa, says illegal mining takes place at both disused and active mines and has dimmed South Africa’s attractiveness as an investment destination.

It says it costs operating mines as much as R7 billion a year, and the economy tens of billions of rand more in lost export earnings, taxes and royalties.