Security in mining

Challenges and needs


There are various challenges within the mining industry in South Africa and across the African continent. In terms of security specifically there are multiple concerns, which is why the need for security measures within this industry is of paramount importance.

Recognising and dealing with these concerns is required in order to maintain the initiative and reduce losses and possible disruptions to mining operations.Poverty is probably the biggest problem across the continent, as mines are usually situated in an underdeveloped location, where a large section of the local community is impoverished or unemployed.

The initial perception from community members is often that this business enterprise will lead to increased employment, but a skills shortage within the community often means the discrepancy between the haves and have nots becomes even wider.

Subsequently, collusion is often a problem between the workforce and people in local communities, as is the threat of intimidation – for those employees and family members who choose not to collude. Criminal syndicates are also on the increase; their targets are usually high-end commodities that can be moved to other regions for resale. These groups pose a very real threat to security as they are predisposed to use force in order to get what they want.

Culture is one aspect that can and will produce friction in any workplace. This is exacerbated in the mining industry, as most mining operations have employees from different countries and regions, each with their own cultures and beliefs, who all work in extremely challenging and restrictive conditions. Intolerance can lead todisputes and a breakdown of communication and possible tension and fighting between these individuals and groups. Further to this – and specifically in locations with high unemployment rates – job seekers will take any vacancy, even if this is perhaps not where they are best suited.

A clearly defined selection process is necessary to select the most suitable

candidates for the posts available, to avoid any further friction between employees.

One very specific problem is copper cable theft, which is rife throughout the mining industry. Copper cable has become extremely lucrative for both “career criminals” and opportunistic thieves working on mining or mining construction sites. Often, copper cable theft from copper cable yards is executed with military-style precision by heavily armed groups. A new trend is developing where armed robbers in groups of four or more tie up the security personnel at mining cable yards, and use the security vehicle to transport the cable offsite.

Often, these “hits” happen very early in the morning and cables are cut with grinders or saws before being loaded up. A vigilant yet flexible security solution is required, which delves into the complexities and layers of this specific problem.

As each mine and each location brings with it different threats, a complete risk assessment is needed in order to work out the security procedures that are required. A comprehensive contingency plan for

emergencies is vital for any business in regions where there might be limited infrastructure and support. This plan must make provision for possible medical and environmental

scenarios, but should also give top priority to safety and security situations.

CORTAC Tactical Security offers a range of security solutions within the mining industry and deploys hardcore underground security teams to assist in neutralising the illegal mining threat and infra-structure theft. CORTAC provides guarding services in all of its areas of operation. These mission-specific teams offer control, process, information, and deterrence value and act as first responders in the event of an incident.

Technology – such as CCTV

installations, access control systems, security fencing and tamper detection systems – forms an integral part of their security solutions. Guards are also fully integrated into the broader CORTAC security solution, dovetailing with the tactical units, technology, and risk mitigation elements.

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This edition

Issue 42