South Africa: Mining-Affected Communities Are in a Crisis Which Present Law Cannot Address


Given the consequences of mining, it is not surprising that communities living on previously unmined land are increasingly resisting the imposition of mining development and demanding respect for the right to consent to development that occurs on their land.

It would perhaps be unfair to accuse Gwede Mantashe, Minister of the newly-merged portfolios of minerals and energy, of being unrealistically upbeat. His recent Minerals budget speech does acknowledge that the mining sector has contracted by 3.2% in the first quarter of 2019 and that there is a range of economic, social environmental and administrative issues that need to be addressed. However, without a prior understanding of the sector, a listener would not necessarily grasp the gravity of the situation facing mining-affected communities.

Mining-affected communities in South Africa are living in a social, economic and environmental crisis generated by the mining sector's drive to generate short term profits at the expense of communities' and workers social and economic rights, while demand for commodities is limited in a stagnant global capitalist economy.

They are facing waves of retrenchments, disinvestment in local economies, being driven from their land, having their homes damaged from blasting and degradation of their environment.

Women are especially negatively...

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