Thirty-four suspected undocumented immigrants will appear in the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court on Thursday after they were arrested during a raid on illegal mining operations.

Two others arrested after the raid in Matholeville‚ Johannesburg‚ on Wednesday have been charged with possession of explosives and selling alcohol without a liquor licence.

Police spokesperson Colonel Andre Laing said 56 tubes of explosives used for the illegal activities were found in the area.

“At least 22 buckets of 20 litres containing gold concentrate and another 32 buckets of 25 litres were seized‚ and four-wheeled rubbish bins‚ together with 66 bags containing the gold concentrate. Amongst the many things taken were 56 ‘phenduka’ tools and 116 iron balls used to crush the gold inside the tool. Amongst the seized items was 36 stamper pots used for crushing the rocks‚” he said.

Laing said 225 shacks with illegal electrical connections were disconnected from the grid‚ while 1800kg of cables were confiscated.

“City Water also cut six illegal water connections from the Jo’burg main pipeline. Four shacks used for the illegal operation were demolished‚” he said.

The raid was conducted in the Matholeville informal settlement by the infrastructure protection unit of the City of Johannesburg‚ the Johannesburg Metro Police‚ SAPS‚ Home Affairs and the Hawks.

In its 2016 report‚ the Chamber of Mines noted that the rise in illegal mining could be attributed to a combination of factors‚ including a difficult socio-economic climate and limited resources at the disposal of law enforcement agencies‚ such as police‚ immigration‚ border control and prosecuting authorities.

“It was initially based on the surge in the gold price during the bull market of the first decade of this century. Despite the fall in the US dollar gold price since 2011‚ the rand gold price has held sufficiently steady to keep illegal mining profitable‚” the report read.

“About 14‚000 people are currently estimated to be involved in illegal mining. These miners enter mostly abandoned shafts‚ travelling as far as 4km underground‚ where they live for several days at a time‚ risking their lives for an income.”