Mining and Community in the South African Platinum Belt: A Decade after Marikana


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Series: Urban Development and Infrastructure

BISAC: HIS001040

In August 2012, the South African police shot 34 mineworkers at Marikana outside Rustenburg. The mineworkers had been involved in a dispute with Lonmin about their wages, work environment and living conditions. It took this tragedy to focus the world’s attention on the intersection between the mines and the community in the South African platinum belt. It is now nearly a decade since the Marikana massacre. This book takes stock of the changes since then.

South Africa provides a concrete case for investigating global debates on mining and cities and the conflict that often arises in these cities. Though not now as big as it was in its heyday, South Africa’s mining sector nevertheless contributes 7% of GDP and provides 400,000 jobs (Chamber of Mines, 2017) to a country with an unemployment rate of 29.1% in 2019. South Africa provides about 80% of the world’s platinum, a large percentage of which is used in catalytic converters to reduce CO2 emission by petrol-driven vehicles.

The future of platinum mining in Rustenburg is under threat because of the rise of electric cars and the cost of underground mining in the area. Many of the new platinum mines to the north of Rustenburg are open cast mines where production is mechanised and cheaper. Other influences on Rustenburg are the increased global nature and neoliberal thinking in the mining industry. Labour practices have also changed. With mining increasingly dependent on shift work and contract work, outsourcing has changed the face of Rustenburg. The mining companies have transferred their historical responsibilities for housing and health to the government and the mineworkers. Relationships between the mines and the community are in flux, with resulting social, environmental and health concerns. Most worryingly, in their engagement with communities the companies seldom consider the consequences of mine decline and closure.

This book investigates the consequences of the shifting social responsibilities, new inequalities and sustainability concerns created by this neoliberal phase and asks what will happen in the likely case of mine decline and closure and whether there have been improvements since Marikana.

Table of Contents


List of Figures

List of Tables

Acronyms and Abbreviations

Chapter 1. Rustenburg: The Challenges of a Normalised Mining Town
(Lochner Marais, Maléne Campbell, Stuart Denoon-Stevens and Deidre van Rooyen – Centre for Development Support, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa, et al.)

Chapter 2. A Brief History of Platinum Mining with a Focus on the Rustenburg Region
(Mark Oranje, Verna Nel, Elsona van Huyssteen and Johan Maritz – Department of Town and Regional Planning, University of Pretoria, South Africa, et al.)

Chapter 3. Livelihoods, the Body, and the Space of Phokeng, Rustenburg
(Ngaka Mosiane – Gauteng City-Region Observatory, Braamfontein, Johannesburg, South Africa)

Chapter 4. Planning for a Post-Mining Future in the Rustenburg Region and the Transition Towards It?
(Johan Maritz, Mark Oranje, Elsona van Huyssteen and Verna Nel – Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Built Environment Unit, Pretoria, South Africa, et al.)

Chapter 5. Wages and Welfare in Rustenburg
(Jean-Pierre Geldenhuys, Antonie Pool and Philippe Burger – Department of Economics and Finance, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa)

Chapter 6. Perceptions on the Impact of Extractive Industries on Local Government: The Case of Rustenburg
(Maléne Campbell – Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa)

Chapter 7. Mine Housing, Assets and Informality in Rustenburg: Implications of Mine Closure
(Lochner Marais, John Ntema, Jan Cloete and Molefi Lenka – Centre for Development Support, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa, et al.)

Chapter 8. Municipal Finances in Rustenburg
(Chris Hendriks – Public Administration and Management, Economic and Management Sciences, University of the Free State, South Africa)

Chapter 9. Conflicting Perceptions of Sustainability in Mining: Influencing Factors in the Rustenburg Region
(Olusola Oluwayemisi Ololade, Beatrice Omonike Otunola1 and Israel Ropo Orimoloye – Centre for Environmental Management, University of the Free State, South Africa, et al.)

Chapter 10. Socio-Economic Opportunities in This Mining Town – Do Women Benefit?
(Anmar Pretorius and Derick Blaauw – School of Economic Sciences, North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus), South Africa)

Chapter 11. Sustainability Reporting: A Case Study of Impression Management in Rustenburg
(Cornelie Crous – Business School, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa)

Chapter 12. Digging Differently, and Society is Shaken
(Phia van der Watt – Centre for Development Support, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa)

Chapter 13. Quo Vadis, Rustenburg?
(Stuart Paul Denoon-Stevens – Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa)


“This book is excellent in describing and analysing the mining and post-mining economics and challenges of Rustenburg and the Platinum Belt of South Africa.” – Professor Lucius Botes, North West University, South Africa

“This book by Lochner Marais and his colleagues is important in several ways. Not only does it highlight, through the in-depth analysis of the platinum mining town Rustenburg, the dilemmas of large-scale mining and dependent communities. It also reveals the complexities of the South African post-apartheid transition, which in turn can serve as inspiration for many other places going through or aspiring to a democratic reinvention and economic redistribution. In addition, the book reveals the often nefarious effects of globalisation and neoliberal reform on mining communities. Marais and his colleagues took great pains to demonstrate how old injustices can endure under new conditions, how new injustices can be the unintended consequence of seemingly benevolent decisions by governments and companies alike, and how every new and appealing rhetoric can be deployed to serve other purposes. Some of the examples are revealing about South Africa, others are recognisable in resource towns across the world: dismantling of exploitative structures such as company towns, and increased local autonomy and democracy can hide neglect and disinvestment by companies and governments alike. Nevertheless, the authors find not one but many sparkles of hope in their Rustenburg study, hope which will be welcomed in other resource-dependent regions.” – Professor Kristoff van Ache, University of Alberta, Canada

“A much-needed new understanding that is relevant for South Africa and its regional neighbours. Some of the results and insight are universal and can potentially be applied much wider.” – Professor Ernst Drewes, North West University, South Africa

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