Digging to disaster: how illegal mining is putting Johannesburg at risk

25 November 2018 - 00:00 By GRAEME HOSKEN
Parts of Johannesburg are under imminent threat of collapse because of illegal mining.
Parts of Johannesburg are under imminent threat of collapse because of illegal mining.
Image: Gallo Images / City Press / Lucky Nxumalo

Experts have sounded the alarm that illegal miners are blasting to within metres of highly flammable gas and fuel lines under Johannesburg.

Despite warnings that the city is on the brink of an unprecedented disaster, the  government has shrugged off desperate calls by city officials to step in and avert the potential catastrophe.

Should one of those lines be damaged, experts say, everything within a 300m radius will be “incinerated”.

Key parts of the city are also under imminent threat of collapse because of illegal miners digging and blasting through a 140km labyrinth of underground tunnels beneath Johannesburg.

These include the M1 double-decker highway and the M2, sections of Soweto and the 94,000-seat FNB Stadium.

“The city faces a disaster beyond imagination,” said Johannesburg’s Infrastructure Protection Unit head Conel Mackay, who sits on the Gauteng Illegal Mining Stakeholders Forum.

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba said the national departments of mineral resources (DMR) and co-operative governance & traditional affairs (Cogta) had ignored his letters asking for help.

The DMR failed to respond to specific questions about the issue this week, while Cogta said the minister would soon meet with the Minerals Council SA.

Read the full story in the Sunday Times.


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