IT'S mostly up to mining companies to decide what to do with shafts when closing a mine.
This statement from Department of Minerals and Energy spokesperson Bheki Khumalo comes after 61 dead illegal miners were brought to the surface at Harmony Gold mine's disused Eiland shaft in Welkom between the weekend and yesterday.
"The company presents a closure plan to us and we issue a closure certificate when we are satisfied with the plan."
Khumalo said the certificate was issued after it had been established that the closure "would not harm the environment or pose a danger" to the public.
It was not a requirement for a company to backfill a disused mine.
"Especially in nstances whe: the gold price suffers, some companies reopen their old mines and mine again."
Harmony Gold spokesperson Marian van der Walt said: "Unfortunately criminals, some of whom are former mine employees, found a way to enter the disused shafts to look for gold."