23 Apr 2019

Mining and extractives / Uncovered: The dark world of the Zama Zamas

Zama Zama outputs exceed R14 billion annually, making South Africa one of the biggest sources of illicit gold in Africa.

Illegal artisanal mining in South Africa is among the most lucrative and violent on the African continent, with lost production exceeding R14 billion (about USD$1 billion) a year. Current enforcement and policy responses, which criminalise illegal miners, are misguided, counterproductive and ignore the poverty and socio-economic drivers behind the phenomenon. A more holistic, nuanced and multi-faceted approach is required from government and industry to address the lack of formalisation and the marginalisation of the illegal mining sector.

About the author

Alan Martin is a technical adviser and investigative researcher specialising in illicit ASM gold and diamond supply chains. In the past decade he has examined the political economy and policy drivers behind criminal activity in Dubai, India, Mali, Uganda, Zimbabwe and the Mano River Union region of West Africa. He is based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.


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