Long-term planning must anticipate not just growth but the likelihood of decline. The international literature on shrinking cities is dubious about the wisdom of advocating permanency and suggests that a better approach to the problems of a resource-based city is to face the prospect of its shrinking and plan accordingly. We use a case study of Merafong City, a gold mining centre in Gauteng, to illustrate the unforeseen consequences of large-scale economic and population decline. Despite the decline in its mines, the city’s footprint has expanded by 35 %. We argue that its problems stem from inappropriate post-apartheid policies, the power of the mining companies, the relaxation of planning legislation, a planning mindset that promotes growth, and a reluctance to plan for decline. We argue that in cities like this it is essential to anticipate and plan for decline and that this requires long-term aims that differ markedly from those of post-apartheid policy. We challenge the assumption of long-term economic growth in an uncertain industry dependent on global market forces.
Marais, L., & de Lange, A. (2021). Anticipating and planning for mine closure in South Africa. Futures : the Journal of Policy, Planning and Futures Studies, 125, 102669. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.futures.2020.102669