Cape Town - Illegal mining has become a major problem in Gauteng and is on the rise in three other provinces, the Mine Health and Safety Inspectorate warned on Friday.
In its 2012/13 annual report, tabled at Parliament, the inspectorate said illegal mining operations had increased in regions of the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal.
Defunct mines in Gauteng were also being targeted by illegal miners.
“Illegal mining activities in the old, defunct mines in the East Rand and West Rand... have, in the past two years, become a major challenge for the (department of mineral resources), mining companies, and local authorities.”
According to the report, cessation of mining at the Pamodzi and Gravelotte gold mines - on the East Rand - had seen illegal mining activities become a major problem for the region.
On illegal mining in the Free State, it said the region had “experienced a serious challenge in dealing with the bodies of deceased illegal miners” killed in accidents.
The bodies were found in old gold plants on the surface, or were left at stations underground.
In the Northern Cape and Eastern Cape mining inspectors were threatened by the illegal miners.
“Illegal mining continues to spread in the region and... inspectors face the threat of violence from perpetrators.”
Licensed operators had asked the mineral resources department for help.
However, “at this time the (department) does not have the capacity to police these activities”.
It had called on licensed operators to report illegal operations to the SA Police Service.
On the Northern Cape, it said illegal diamond diggers were a widespread problem in Namaqualand and around the Kimberley area.
The report said illegal mining had been significantly reduced in the Barberton area of Mpumalanga through the efforts and actions of the province and national department. - Sapa