South Africa's Sibanye declares war on illegal gold miners

Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:38pm GMT

* Sibanye aims to clear out illegal miners by January 2018

* Thousands of "zama zamas" mine gold illegally in South Africa

* Biometric access part of security roll out

* Costs to industry, state coffers estimated at $1.5 bln annually

By Ed Stoddard

WESTONARIA, South Africa, April 21 (Reuters) - Illegal gold mining has plagued South Africa's mining companies for decades, robbing the industry and state coffers of billions of rand through smalltime pilfering as well as networks run by organised crime.

Now, with unmined output dwindling and proving more diff cult to extract, one firm has had enough: diversified precious metals producer Sibanye Gold says that it will clear all illegal miners from its shafts by the end of January next year.

"We will have them out then," Sibanye's Chief Executive Neal Froneman told Reuters. His campaign slogan is "Zero Zama", after the Zulu for illegal miners, "zama zamas" or "taking a chance".

A Gold Fields spin-off formed in 2013, Sibanye is the first company to set itself a deadline to stop the practice and has laid out 200 million rand ($15 million) to make it happen.   Continued...

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