The settlements that spring up around mines have huge environmental, social and economic consequences.The settlements that spring up around mines have huge environmental, social and economic consequences.The environmental consequences have been well studied, but less attention has been paid to the social and economic consequences, particularly the effects of mine closure on what are often significant urban settlements which grew up around them. This paper relates the history of the urban centers of the Free State Goldfields and draws lessons for questions of economic and social sustainability in mining settlements. We argue that the rushed way the mining settlements in the area established, the emphasis on modernity in their planning and the over-arching context of decentralized planning under apartheid did not lay the right foundations for dealing with the long-term effects of mine closure. We highlight the way that booming commodity prices can hinder economic diversification.The paper concludes with some recommendations for new mine settlements.
Marais, L. & Nel, E. (2016). The dangers of growing on gold: Lessons for mine downscaling from the Free State Goldfields, South Africa, Local Economy, 31(1-2), pp. 282-298. doi: 10.1177/0269094215621725