A new wave of gold rush has begun in South Africa due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to a sharp rise in unemployment.
Local residents and illegal migrants from Lesotho, Zimbavbe and Mozambique are mining abandoned mines for golden sand. In South Africa, such miners are called "zama" - fortune hunters, but for their work they receive only a small part of the profit, which goes to the criminal gangs controlling the process.
Activists in the Johannesburg suburbs are calling on the authorities and mining corporations to find a solution to the problem.
“Illegal miners are on the rise because the unemployment rate was already very high, and then the coronavirus pandemic began, which led to the impoverishment of the population,” says Tini Dlamini.
According to experts, six years ago, at least 30 thousand people were employed in this illegal trade in South Africa. Workers risk their health: the main method of illegal mining is mercury, which also leads to environmental pollution. On the territory of the country, there are about six thousand abandoned mines. In early October, six miners were killed in a shootout with police, and dozens were arrested.
South African mines remain the deepest and most dangerous in the world. So, at the deepest mine in the world - Mponeng of the Harmony Gold company in South Africa - 7 people have already died this year. Extraction from deep mines is very expensive. South Africa was the largest gold producer until 2018, when the Republic of Ghana took its place.
Analysts predict that gold prices will be high for another two years, and then - until 2025 will decline. In the near future, this will stimulate increased investment in exploration and new projects. However, as prices decline, incentives will disappear.