JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Security is being stepped up at South Deep gold mine in Gauteng to present an even more resistant barrier to armed criminals, Gold Fields executive VP Martin Preece said on Thursday.
This action follows last year’s gold robbery attempt at the mine by machine-gun wielding gangsters.
The attack at South Deep is one of 19 attacks on gold plants, Minerals Council South Africa has reported.
Bloomberg stated that a criminal platoon armed with AK-47 and R6 assault rifles took hostages at South Deep and plundered the smelting plant, but failed to break into the main vault.
Responding to Mining Weekly at a media roundtable following the Johannesburg- and New York-listed gold mining company’s presentation of outstanding financial results, Preece said that the new security measures included additional physical barriers to entry, technology, extra personnel and, as CEO Nick Holland put it, “a whole bunch of things”.
“We were very fortunate. Our personnel followed the correct procedures by not confronting the robbers and we got away without injuries and the loss of literally only scraps of gold,” said Preece.
“In response to that, we’re working with the Minerals Council and the South African Police Services. We’ve got commitments from Police Minister Bheki Cele and there’s a working group trying to combat gold crime. We’ll be spending some further money on upgrading access on to our property to repel any potential future attacks,” he added.
A joining of the dots is pointing to the attacks being part of a coordinated new focus by callous gold syndicates.
DRDGold said this week that it was continuing to work intently to track down the gang of armed robbers who escaped with 17 kg of gold after fatally wounding the company’s chief security officer, Bart Coetzee.
Harmony Gold CEO Peter Steenkamp described the spate of violent attacks on gold smelting plants as being of great concern. “Gold was stolen at Kalgold. There was a further attempt at Kalgold and fortunately for us, they didn’t manage to steal anything from the plant, but it's of major concern,” he commented.
“What worries us more than anything is people being killed and hurt. It’s quite a concern and this is part of the range of problems that we have to deal with in our country. We’ve got to improve security and safety and law and order for all people,” said Holland.