1st Edition

The Social Impacts of Mine Closure in South Africa Housing Policy and Place Attachment

By Lochner Marais Copyright 2023
    200 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book investigates the relationship between mining, mine closure and housing policy in post-apartheid South Africa, using concepts from new institutional economics and evolutionary governance theory.

    Mine closures present a major challenge to the mining industry and governments, with this being particularly noticeable in the Global South. This book argues that the dependencies created by the mining industry and mine housing policies while a mine is operational cause serious societal problems when it closes. To demonstrate this, the book applies the concepts of place attachment, asset-based development and social disruption. Conceptually, the book challenges the view that place attachment and asset-based development are the most appropriate and often the only policy responses in mining areas. In South Africa, the mining industry and the government have created comprehensive housing programmes linked to homeownership to promote place attachment, stability and wealth among mine workers. These programmes do not consider the disruption that mine closure might bring. The book challenges the blind application, during boom periods, of policies which create long-term dependencies that are difficult to manage when a mine closes.

    This book will be of interest to students and scholars researching the social impacts of mining and the extractive industries, social geography and sustainable development, as well as policymakers and practitioners working with mine closure or social impact assessments.

    1. Setting the scene, 2. Place attachment, asset-based development and social disruption, 3. Mine closure and planning for decline, 4. Post-apartheid housing policy and mining towns, 5. Post-apartheid migrant labour patterns, 6. Mining, housing and wealth creation, 7. Mining and informal housing, 8. Findings, contributions and policy recommendations


    Lochner Marais is Professor of Development Studies at the Centre for Development Support and Associate to the Chair on City-Region Economics at the University of the Free State, South Africa. He is also Adjunct Honorary Professor at the Minerals Institute at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. He is the co-editor of Coal and Energy in South Africa (2022), Mining and Community in the South African Platinum Belt (2021) and Community and Mining in South Africa (Routledge, 2018).

    'Exploring the nexus of mining, mine closure and housing is an important undertaking because the public, private and civil society sectors are grappling with better arrangements for establishing viable post-mining economies. The book is quite timely since no other book appeared on this topic during the past 30 years addressing this issue in SA. The book is a must read for people working in the fields of urban economics, urban and regional planning, sustainable regional development, housing studies, urban sociology, human geography, etc. and with an interest in housing and mining. Many managers, operating in the mining sector, may find this book useful to inform the policies and plans they design and implement in arranging housing in a mining context and post-mining context. The book is a valuable contribution for the so-called developing world because of the sheer numbers and proportions of populations who remained affected after the extracting industries have closed and left a region.'

    Lucius Botes, Professor in Development Studies and Director Research Development, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the North West University, South Africa

    'Mines come and go, as governments come and go, and people move in and out. Very rarely, these cycles are perfectly attuned, and the expectations for mining as a provider of community prosperity and stability are all too often disappointed. In this impressive synthesis, Lochner Marais takes a hard look at the situation of South African mining towns, and what happens when the mine closes. His conclusions end up far from the commonplaces pervading the literature, arguing expertly on two sides of common polarizations such as camp/ town, rental/ home ownership, development/ shrink, and considering the pros and cons of place attachment.'

    Kristof Van Assche, Professor Planning, Governance & Development, Department of Earth & Atmospheric Science, University of Alberta