The Threat of Illegal Mining on Global Security and Safety

The impact of illegal miners and mine operations on the industry has long been a topic of concern. However, as the global market expands and develops with new explorations, large acquisitions and a rising demand, the impact that illegal activities have on the Health, Safety and Security of the industry will continue to grow. This pervasive issue is far more that a simple case of theft, it also poses significant challenges for local communities, law enforcement, environments, and businesses.

Recent incidents of extreme violence, which have resulted in the death of both civilians and security personnel, underscore the urgency of addressing these threats. Whether they are by small opportunistic groups, organised crime syndicates or terrorist organisations, the danger that they present to public safety and business operations are outstanding. Protecting assets and people from so many groups, known and unknown, means that guidelines, procedures and planning are a massive task for Security Managers in very valuable areas of operation for a lot of companies.

In addition to the immediate risks to personnel and assets, there are profound environmental consequences associated with illegal mining activities. Lacks H&S procedures, unregulated areas and unskilled work forces can all have a detrimental effect on local ecosystems. In the Amazon, local governments and non-profit groups are attempting to evict miners from multiple illegal sites in protected areas. The environmental impact of deforestation is all too well known, yet it persists in this region, this also has an economic impact on the indigenous people, affecting crops and habitat. Mining operations are inherently dangerous places. Mine collapses, gas explosions and mud slides are all things that keep HSE professionals on edge. This inherently hazardous nature of mining operations is compounded by the presence of unskilled workers operating without proper safety protocols.

As this pressing issue continues to grow, is enough being done from the top down? In Nigeria, a country that is seriously affected by illegal miners (some of which are also associated with terrorist groups), The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Alake has called for support from the NSCDC in smoking out illegal miners. This is a great step in the right direction, but the issue requires a multifaced approach.

We have partnered with several clients recently that are taking proactive steps to mitigate this risk and secure their interests across multiple high-risk regions. This includes, hiring new Heads of Security, creating new divisions within the business, collaborating with competitors, establishing external networks and increasing rotational staff to name a few innovative solutions.

If you are a security leader, I’d be keen to hear your take on this issue. What are you doing within your organisation about illegal mines/ miners? What did I miss out from this article?

Feel free to get in touch by dropping me a message on LinkedIn or email me at


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