Mines within different regions of the country should pool their security resources and share intelligence information in order to better direct efforts at combatting the growing crime scourge. With rampant theft, hijackings and site invasions becoming commonplace in some areas, the time to act is now, so says Nico Pienaar, director of ASPASA, the surface mining industry association. These sentiments were shared by management and security experts during a recent security workshop hosted by ASPASA.

Some of the worrying trends highlighted during the workshop include an alarming increase in armed robberies onsite at several member mines. Other rising crimes include copper cable theft that costs millions in lost production. Simultaneously, burglaries are on the increase and perhaps most worrying is the trend of ‘spiking’ car tyres on or near mines and obstructing roads in order to rob and terrorise the unfortunate occupant – sometimes with murderous consequences.

Unfortunately, a common thread emerged during the meeting that the South African Police Service (SAPS) seldom or never respond to crimes perpetrated on the mines nor do they take action to investigate crimes that have occurred which means criminals are learning to act with impunity with no fear of the law. 

Special forces

“As a result, member companies are being forced to hire specialised security personnel to prevent crime, and to investigate crimes that have occurred and prosecute offenders. These services do not come cheap but may be more affordable to smaller-scale mines if they pool their resources and share costs within a specific geographic area, or even launch industry-wide initiatives with related cost savings,” says Nico. “These services usually go hand-in-hand with early warning sensors that pick-up movement at perimeters, monitor cellphone activity etc to give responders time to react. 

“Another worrying factor that our mine managers have identified is the prevalence of ‘inside jobs’ where perpetrators who have been arrested either work for the mine or later implicate the mine’s employees in assisting them. It is therefore important to hire staff carefully and vet them meticulously because criminals posing as workers can become the enemy from within,” Nico advises.  

Other initiatives highlighted include the use of technology that can implement triggers such as lights, sirens, pepper spray, armed response and other passive security measures while replacing unarmed guards on site with specialists who are properly trained and alert to possible threats. 

Mines should also become part of fight back initiatives which means that participating mines will no longer be seen as soft targets and give criminals pause for thought when planning their next move. Most importantly, mines need to identify when and where crimes are taking place and dispatch teams who can take appropriate actions.

ASPASA, Nico Pienaar


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