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Running battles as miners, security clash

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Increased security measures were needed to protect its legal property and mining rights against illegal trespassers acting outside the ambit of a multi-party agreement enabling legal artisanal mining activities around the city.

WAR ZONE: Battles between Samaria artisanal miners and Kimberley Ekapa Mining security personnel continued on the weekend, with rubber bullets being fired by mine security. Picture: Danie van der Lith

RUNNING battles between Samaria artisanal miners and Kimberley Ekapa Mining security personnel continued on the weekend, with rubber bullets being fired by mine security.

The artisanal miners claim that Ekapa is infringing on their land, which was allocated to them when they received their mining permits last year.

Last week it was reported that a stand-off occurred after the artisanal miners claimed that Kimberley Ekapa Mining trucks were “impeding their work” as they (Ekapa) were encroaching on their land.

“Security personnel trying to protect Ekapa against illegal trespassing and sabotage have been injured and were admitted to hospital for treatment. Security personnel shot rubber bullets while defending themselves and Ekapa property against people throwing rocks and shooting slingshots,” Kimberley Ekapa Mining chief executive officer Jahn Hohne said.

“We have a responsibility to all our stakeholders, including people depending on the company for their job security, and have asked for the assistance of all relevant government authorities.”

In a statement issued by Kimberley Ekapa Mining it was pointed out that increased security measures were needed to protect its legal property and mining rights against illegal trespassers acting outside the ambit of a multi-party agreement enabling legal artisanal mining activities around the city.

“The assistance of the SAPS and provincial government has also been acquired to protect the mining company and the thousands of people dependent on Ekapa’s legal mining activities for their livelihood,” Hohne said.

He added that the multi-party agreement between Ekapa Minerals, Batho Pele (a mining co-operative for artisanal miners), the Department of Mineral Resources and the Sol Plaatje Municipality sets out clear boundaries for artisan mining on land donated by Ekapa Minerals to Sol Plaatje and tailings mineral resources (TMRs) sold and transferred to Batho Pele.

“The boundaries are confirmed by independent surveys done in specific areas. Fences referred to are on these legal boundaries,” Hohne said.

He added that Ekapa met with Batho Pele representatives on Friday.

“It is clear that the illegal activity is conducted by splinter groups acting outside the ambit of the agreement between Ekapa and artisanal miners.”

Police spokesperson Captain Tessa Jansen said that the police were called out on Friday to maintain law and order.

“Rubber bullets were fired and the situation calmed down. Police were also called out later on Friday to monitor the situation between the miners and mine security.”

She added that police continued to monitor the situation over the weekend.