International syndicates and illegal mining in South Africa

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By Kotie Geldenhuys

Illegal mining has been a long-standing issue in South Africa, with various syndicates often involved in these illicit activities. The country’s abundant mineral resources, including gold and platinum, have made it a prime target for illegal mining operations, leading to significant economic losses and various social and environmental challenges. International syndicates, often operating with sophisticated networks and resources, have been known to collaborate with local criminal groups to engage in illegal mining activities. These syndicates often use various tactics including bribery, corruption and violence, to gain control over lucrative mining areas and evade law enforcement.

In a 2023 report entitled Organised crime, corruption, and illicit trade: Spotlight on South Africa, the Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT) states the following: “The South African Revenue Service (SARS) estimates that illicit trade costs the South African economy R100 billion every year. In terms of lost tax revenues, Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) estimates that the country loses around R250 million a day. Furthermore, the OECD estimates that South Africa is losing $3.5 billion to $5 billion a year, or more than 1% of its GDP, to illicit financial flows” (TRACIT, 2023). A portion of this R100 billion constitutes the precious metals industry, which is regarded as an optimal commodity for international smuggling, primarily because it can be easily transported and promises substantial profit margins.


[This is only an extract of an article that is published in Servamus: January 2024. This article is available for purchase.]

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