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South African gold mines looted by Chinese triads

By Adriana Stuijt     Jan 15, 2009 in Business
South African and British mining executives say that South Africa has dropped down to third place on the list of gold producers, after China and the United States. The main reason: the massive piracy of South African gold by Chinese crime syndicates.
South Africa has suffered the biggest drop in gold bullion output since the Boer War in 1901 - while the country was embroiled in the UK ethnic-cleansing campaign referred to as 'the Anglo-Boer war' in history records.
London-based precious metals consultancy GFMS said Thursday that gold-mine closures are mainly due to higher operating costs and by a government crackdown on mine safety. Yet the demand for gold-coins as investments in these difficult economic times, is still rising steadily. And huge supplies of gold-reserves remain belowground in South Africa now. See
There is something much more ominous going on here than just having to deal with deeper mine-shafts: Chinese triads, the all-powerful and very dangerous international crime syndicates, have also armed large numbers of South African rogue-miners who now invade commercial gold-mines enmasse and smuggle gold-ore hacked or blasted away from the rock-faces. They melt down the ore in backyard smelters. These armed, dangerous mining-piracy gangs are very difficult to trace by undermanned SA police, often unfamiliar with the dangerous, deep and dark mine-shafts.
The collapse of the once so famous South African diamond mines is also speeding up, with 1,200 diamond miners laid off due to five diamond mines' closures just this month, according to Solidarity trade union. see
Diamond mines are closing because gem diamonds are never really a sound investment during hard economic times with so many cash-strapped people trying to sell them, causing a glut on the market.
The South African gold-mine closures are much more difficult to explain because vast supplies of the precious metal remain below ground while the price of gold bullion is still rising steadily. See 24-hour gold price chart here
South Africa has dominated gold production for a century and gold is still being mined, but much of it now is illegally hacked from the rock-faces of mine shafts. The Chinese triads now buy up untold tons of this looted gold from South African pirate-miners each year. Some mine shafts have become so dangerous, with heavily-armed pirate miners living below ground for months on end, that many mine-company workers are terrified of venturing belowground in some areas.see
South African collapse of electricity and security infrastructure:
Last year, another calamity hit the gold mines: from January 2008, all the mines were ordered by the goverment to operate with 10% cutbacks in electricity, and also suffered many mining accidents because of sudden blackouts due to the country's increasingly unreliable electricity grid. This caused a massive production loss at several mines.
South Africa now ranks number three on the list of gold products -- after China and the United States, says the GFMS Gold Survey 2008. Of course China claimed the number one spot in 2007 when its production rose to 276 tonnes against SA's eight percent fall to 272 tonnes - but these statistics are obviously also skewed by the massive looting of South African gold by Chinese triads.
"South Africa faced a crushing year, with production plummeting by an estimated 14%, the sharpest percentage fall since 1901 when Great Britain had invaded the independent Boer Republics to claim the gold reserves,' the consultancy said.
South African Chamber of Mines' website shows that the largest fall came between 1899 and 1900 when gold production from the Boer Republic's state-owned mines output fell 90% to 10.8 tonnes from 113.15 tonnes.
It then dropped to eight tonnes in 1901 before rocketing back to 53.44 tonnes a year later.
The Boer War ran from October 1899 to May 1902 between Britain and the two indepedent Boer republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. Gold was mainly at the heart of the British invasion, although they claimed that they had been outraged over the perceived lack of 'voting rights for British citizens' in the Boer Republics.
SA's production is now at its lowest in 100 years, GFMs said, basing its assessment on preliminary 2008 figures and its archives. South Africa produced 1,000 tonnes of gold at its peak in 1970 and it has been declining ever since.
China meanwhile boosted its gold production because of increased foreign investment there -- while SA's investors have fled enmasse due to the government's crackdown on electricity use, and the laws requiring companies to hand over more than 50% of their shares and directorships to ANC-executives.
Often due to the piracy-gangs blasting away at rock faces without any concerns to safety, many shafts also had to be shut temporarily when people started dying in the resulting rockfalls. South Africa's mining community safety record had up to the year 2007, been the best in the world.
Overall, gold production last year from mines around the world fell to its lowest level since 1995 because of technical issues, skill shortages, power constraints and a weakening global economy that made financing difficult.
China meanwhile officially boosted its gold production by three percent and new mines also came online in the Russian Federation and Mexico.
More about Gold, Diamonds, Anglo-boer war, Transvaal, Free state
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