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Johannesburg mayor, Herman Mashaba, has issued a statement in response to the launch of an investigation into illegal mining in the city.

The Department of Mineral Resources said on Monday (26 November) that it was aware of the potential dangers of illegal mining below the city, but that there is no immediate threat to critical infrastructure from the blasts set off by these miners.

“The comments made by the department are not only deeply misleading but illustrate national government’s inability to proactively manage this dangerous situation and protect the safety of Johannesburg residents,” Mashaba said.

He added that the urgency of the matter was raised by Transnet as early as October of 2017 and that the illegal mining activities not only threatened infrastructure but residents’ lives as well.

“It is greatly disappointing that not only has the city’s efforts up to date been wholly ignored but that national government is now recklessly misleading our residents by trying to downscale the magnitude of this risk,” he said.

According to Mashaba, some of the threats posed by illegal mining activity include:

  • Pipelines carrying gas and fuel create an increased risk for neighbouring communities, puts services at risk and is an impending threat to the safety of city employees working along the pipelines and other services within the servitudes;
  • It risks contamination of the city’s water supply;
  • Illegal mining has resulted in tremors, which risks the structural integrity of our roads, adjacent residential communities and businesses (Illegal blasting can create a spark that can ignite a fire capable of incinerating a large radius of up to 300 metres);
  • Illegal mining activities has compromised the pillars that support the decommissioned mines, placing additional risk on the physical structure upon which the pipelines rests and the imminent collapse of the mine; and
  • Has compromised both Transnet Pipelines and Sasol gas lines.

“Of significance is the Nasrec precinct where the pipelines intersect with Sasol gas lines,” he said.

“Investigations have revealed that if illegal mining activity continues within these old mining shafts, the entire FNB Nasrec precinct, including the iconic FNB stadium, could go down in ruins as a result of unstable earth directly underneath the area,” he said.

“The widespread use of explosives in decommissioned mines could have disastrous consequences for the residents of Johannesburg and may lead to large scale loss of life should these explosions rupture the oil and gas lines. We are informed that just last week, explosives were being used within two meters of the pipelines in Florida.

“While we note the move to further investigate the matter by the Department, given national government’s record on the matter so far, the proof will be in the pudding. More so, what is needed is decisive action to resolve the problem. This is the action the department must engage in.”


This article was sourced from BusinessTech; for the original article, click here