Illegal mining's effect on the sustainability of a South-African Gold mine
Gold mining is one of the cornerstones of the South-African economy, to an extent that the South-African gold mining industry was directly responsible for the establishment of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in 1887. Despite its importance to the economy, the gold mining industry is facing severe challenges of which the growth of illegal mining is one. Failure to understand the role that illegal mining plays on the sustainability of mining companies is detrimental to the sector, economy, and country as a whole. The study investigates the effects of illegal mining on the sustainability of a gold mine. The problem of illegal gold mining continues to worsen with no viable solution in sight. The Government lacks the capacity to enforce laws and regulation that would have restricted the problem. The phenomena of illegal mining is further complicated by the existence of benefits to communities and prevailing socio-economic challenges despite efforts by the mining sector in advancing a narrative that the benefits are far outstripped by the costs, in particular, the sustainability of a gold mine. A qualitative study comprising of a convenient sample of 6 participants, allowed the study to reach a point of saturation. Semi-structured interview questions, with the aid of an interview protocol, were self-administered to the participants who are managers of a single gold mine. The study concludes that the effects of illegal mining on sustainability are mostly negative and they include threats to the safety of miners and communities, destroying of the environment and along with it the socio-economic well-being of the surrounding communities which are important tenets of sustainability. The detrimental activities by illegal miners include unregulated conflicts that results in killings, hazardous handling of explosives, unsustainable handling of the geology and damage to the environment. Resolving the problem effectively requires that mining companies increase their engagement and investment as an alternative to costing in the problem and expecting the incapacitated Government to deliver on the solution.