Operation Prosper: South Africa sends troops to crack down on illegal mining


JOHANNESBURG – South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa has ordered 3,300 soldiers to join the police in a nationwide operation against illegal mining, his office announced on Thursday.

South Africa deploys army to tackle illegal mining
Image: AFP

The six-month deployment, which will cost about 492 million rand ($26 million), is part of "Operation Prosper", a security initiative that also targeted gang violence in the Western Cape province in 2019, presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said.

"Illegal mining across all provinces will be the focus of the SANDF's (South African National Defence Force) intensified anti-criminality operation, in cooperation with the South African Police Service," the presidency said in a statement.

The Minerals Council South Africa, a mining industry group, welcomed the move, saying illegal mining was a serious threat to the country's economy and security as it diminished the country's prospects as an attractive destination for investment. 

It said illegal mining occurred at both abandoned and operating mines, and cost the industry 7 billion rand a year in lost revenue, while depriving the state of billions more in taxes and royalties.

($1 = 18.5890 rand)

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