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A "STAKEHOLDER forum" will be set up to help end illegal mining in the Free State, Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu said yesterday.
"We have met separately with various stakeholders over the last two weeks and [on Saturday] we all came together and agreed to join forces to bring illegal mining to a halt," Shabangu said.
The Stakeholder Forum on Illegal Mining will include the government, mining companies, local businesses, trade unions, community leaders and law enforcement agencies, she said.
Two weeks ago dozens of illegal miners were killed in a disused section of a mine owned by Harmony Gold in the Free State. It is believed they were killed in an underground fire.
Since then the death toll has risen to as many as 86 and South Africa has been inundated with reports on the lives of illegal miners and the scale of their operations.
"The tragic deaths of 86 illegal gold miners in Welkom has highlighted the fact that this is no longer happening on a small scale," she said.
"This problem has now evolved to become an illicit industry run by criminal syndicates and we are going to put a stop to it."
She said illegal mining was not only theft of ore - it also robbed the state of potential revenue that could be used for development. - Sapa