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Another proposed restriction on processed scrap metal in South Africa

The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) has proposed to:


  • further restrict the export of copper semi-finished products,

  • temporarily prohibit the export of used or second-hand rails, and

  • subject rails to export control.


The gazette highlights the severe consequences of copper theft on the country’s electrical grid, as power outages become more frequent and widespread. Copper theft is a major problem in South Africa, estimated to cost the economy billions of rands each year. According to the DTIC, the rising demand for copper on the black market has fuelled the surge in theft incidents, prompting authorities to implement stricter regulations and penalties. Despite these efforts, the problem persists.


The proposed measures are designed to make it more difficult for criminals to monetise stolen copper. By restricting the export of copper semi-finished products, the government hopes to make it more difficult for criminals to sell stolen copper overseas. By temporarily prohibiting the export of used or second-hand rails, the government hopes to prevent criminals from using rails to transport stolen copper. And by subjecting rails to export control, the government hopes to track the movement of rails and prevent them from being exported illegally.


No information has been provided on how effective the other measures have been.


Interested parties can comment on the government’s proposed measures. The deadline to respond is 16 August 2023.


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