Harmony Gold Mining, one of the largest gold firms in Africa, has decided to enforce a ban that prohibits any food being brought underground.
The drastic step, as reported by Reuters, is to "cut supply lines to gangs of illegal miners used to staying deep in the mines for months on end, threatening lives and official production."
The mine, Phakisa, is one of the deepest in the world and security measures such as blockading old shafts, installing "double air locks" and implementing "biometric and security card readers" have been put in place in an attempt to stop illegal miners from gaining access to any part of the 2.4 km deep gold mine.
In speaking to Reuters, Graham Briggs, Harmony's chief executive said, "there are two things you need to survive underground: food and water. You can always get water down a mine but the food ban has made a real difference."
Mining unions saw fit to agree to the food ban under the condition that a free meal be awarded at the end of each shift to employees; though, this does suggest that miners will only have water as a reprieve during their kilometer-deep eight-hour shift.
Evidently mining firms are less worried about the illegal miners pilfering as they are about safety. Reports suggest that some of the illegal activities include blasting; which, as May Hermanus pointed out to Reuters,is a big "risk to safety in these mines because illegal miners could mine pillars, boundary walls and basically dismantle the structures established to ensure stability."
(Image of Graham Briggs, YouTube)