Mining and energy

This paper situates the question of shale gas mining in South Africa within broader debates on policy co-ordination within governmental systems. The prospect of shale gas mining has posed severe challenges for the complex inter-governmental system in South Africa. Three key Departments are affected by possible shale gas mining: Mineral Resources, Environmental Affairs and Water Resources. Each of these Departments have different relationships with the provincial and municipal “spheres of government”. The Department of Mineral Resources has attempted to promote shale gas mining with no reference to municipalities, whereas the other two Departments have attempted to build up municipal capacity. Municipalities have key functions which are protected in the Constitution. However, many municipalities are weak institutions, unwilling to defend their powers. The paper examines Municipal Integrated Development Plans in the potential shale gas region. Most municipalities seem to have no awareness at all of the shale gas issue. Recently, a High Court ruled that any shale gas mining regulations must be made by the Department of Environmental Affairs. With its more decentralist approach to governance, it will mean that municipalities will have more opportunities to participate in shale gas mining decisions.

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The exploration and exploitation of uranium deposits in South Africa dates back to the 1970s. At the time, uranium was mined as a derivative of gold and diamonds. However, due to international opposition to the Apartheid regime’s nuclear weapons programme, along with the boycott and divestment from South Africa movement of the 1980s, the development of large scale uranium mining was halted. Since the emergence of the new democratic state, however, there has been renewed interest in the large-scale exploration and exploitation of uranium deposits, especially in the Great Karoo. The economic viability of uranium mining in the Great Karoo was established in 2006, following the completion of an exploration phase. While this was welcomed by the government and interested mining companies, other stakeholders, such as farmers and environmental groups, hold different views on the project. How do different stakeholders view the risk and vulnerability associated with the uranium mining project in the Great Karoo? What are the specific narratives of each of the stakeholders, and how do these narratives resonate with the ‘sustainability/economic growth’ debate? These are the questions that this study attempts to answer. The analysis is anchored in the cultural theory of risk perception.

The South African mining industry has significant dysfunctions in relationships between companies and their communities. The industry is characterized by increasing concern about its trust deficits, perception gaps and low levels of social capital. This study unpacks this phenomenon in the contexts of Jagersfontein, South Africa. The dissertation also puts forward a provisional model to optimally facilitate mining community‟s development in the South African context.

A review of biophysical and socio-economic effects of unconventional oil and gas extraction – Implications for South Africa  Journal title: Journal of Environmental Management Final version published online: 25-OCT-2016 Full bibliographic details: Journal of Environmental Management  (2016), pp. 419-430, Surina Esterhuysea, , , Marinda Avenanta, Nola Redelinghuysb, Andrzej Kijkoc, Jan Glazewskid, Lisa Plitd, Marthie Kempa, Ansie Smitc, A. Tascha Vosa, Richard Williamsona
a Centre for Environmental Management, University of the Free State, P.O. Box 339, Bloemfontein, South Africa


The impacts associated with unconventional oil and gas (UOG) extraction will be cumulative in nature and will most likely occur on a regional scale, highlighting the importance of using strategic decision-making and management tools. Managing possible impacts responsibly is extremely important in a water scarce country such as South Africa, versus countries where more water may be available for UOG extraction activities. This review article explains the possible biophysical and socio-economic impacts associated with UOG extraction within the South African context and how these complex impacts interlink. Relevant policy and governance frameworks to manage these impacts are also highlighted.


Cloete, JS (2009), Housing options and mining companies in arid areas: The case of Kathu, Northern Cape Province, MA thesis (Sociology), University of the Free State, Bloemfontein.



According to Marais and Venter (2006a), the link between mining, migrancy and housing was fairly well researched before 1994, but since 1994 there has been very little research regarding new approaches to policy and practice to address the specific needs of housing for mineworkers (see Demissie (1998) and Marais and Venter (2006a) as exceptions in this respect). This is an unfortunate turn of events, as the single-sex hostels, which house most of the black1 labour force employed at mines, were among the foremost tools developed under Apartheid for indenturing workers (Demissie, 1998).

The provision of housing to mineworkers is further complicated by the fact that many mineworkers have historically been migrant labourers, either from rural parts of South Africa or from other countries in southern Africa. While the latter class of workers do not have rights to permanent housing in South Africa, the former often prefer to maintain links with what they view as their permanent homes in the rural areas (Crush and James, 1995; Laburn-Peart, 1992). Under apartheid, the ability to migrate of both classes of mineworkers was restricted and regulated by a series of race-based legislative interventions. In the process, the mining compound, closely associated with migrant labour, was historically the main form of housing for black mineworkers.


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Ingle, M and Atkinson, D (2015), Can the Circle be Squared?: An Enquiry into Shale Gas Mining in South Africa’s Karoo (with Doreen Atkinson), Development Southern Africa (in press).



Marais, L and Atkinson, D (2006), Towards a post-mining economy in a small town: Challenges, obstacles and lessons from Koffiefontein, South Africa, Paper presented at the Desert Knowledge Conference, Alice Springs, Australia, 2-4 November.



Mining closure has been an international phenomenon as resource depletion has continued and economic changes have resulted in the decreased value for some commodities. It has also been a topic of research for an increasing number of scholars. Geographically, a large number of case studies exist world wide, with work on Australia (Maude and Hugo, 1992; Niel and Lea, 1992; Sturney, 1992), Canada (Archer and Bradbury, 1992; Gagnon, 1992; Keyes, 1992), Sweden ( Liljenas, 1992; Nygren and Karlson, 1992), Finland (Talman and Tykkylainenen, 1992), Ghana (Acquah and Boateng, 2000), Indonesia (Strongman, 2000), Papua New Guinea (Jackson, 2002) and Romania, Russia and the Ukraine (Haney and Shkaratan, 2003) being prominent.

Historically, South Africa has been primarily dependent on mineral and energy production and export (Nel, 2002). It is especially in the arid areas of South Africa where diamond mining has been prominent. In line with the international experience, mining closures have also been prominent in South Africa during the past 20 years. These closures have been the result of depleting resources on the one hand, as well as more international competition and mining competitiveness on the other. Although there is an increasing number of papers on mine closure in South Africa (see Seidman, 1993; Binns and Nel, 2001; Binns and Nel, 2003, Nel and Binns, 2002; Nel et al., 2003; Marais et al., 2005) in general, the topic seems to be under-researched despite the fact that South Africa has been hard hit by numerous mine closures during the past 20 years.

It is against this background that the paper examines the phenomenon of mine closure and its impact on the small town of Koffiefontein in the semi-arid region of the south-western Free State (Karoo). The paper attempts to identify opportunities, obstacles and lessons from this case study. Fundamentally, we argue that despite good intent by most of role players, our case study suggests that longer-terms partnerships and the integration of development thinking between different spheres of government and mining companies remain difficult in practice. This situation persists despite some hope being offered by the availability of the best enabling legislation and planning frameworks in South African history.


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Atkinson (2005a), Large mines and sustainable development: Towards partnerships with Government, Chamber of Mines, Johannesburg. Unpublished report.



1. The paper compares the developmental proposals of 27 municipal Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) and 4 provincial development plans. It compares these proposals with the activities of 4 South African mines, as reflected in their company reports. At the same time, it compares these proposals and activities with government programmes in a variety of developmental fields. The paper compares 9 developmental themes: Social issues (health, welfare, education, recreation); housing (including infrastructure and spatial planning); promotion of small-scale mining activities; economic diversification; job creation and poverty alleviation; local taxation; environmental management; and relationships with traditional (“indigenous”) communities.

2. Despite their well-known capacity problems, municipalities are key developmental agencies. They cover the whole of South Africa (“wall to wall local government”), and they increasingly function as inter-sectoral development co-ordinators, and they. They also have an elected democratic base. For these reasons, municipalities will play an increasingly important role in all aspects of Local Economic Development (LED), including agriculture, industry, commerce, tourism and mining. They are also responsible for poverty alleviation. An increasing number of developmental functions are being devolved to municipalities, and this is likely to have an impact on the ways that mines conceptualise, plan and implement community development.

3. Provincial governments are also an increasingly strategic level of government. They are responsible for province-wide social and economic planning, and the bulk of government social programmes are channeled through provincial government. It is now a requirement that all provincial governments draft provincial development plans. Most provincial plans say little or nothing about mining, largely because mining falls under a national-level department (DME), without a corresponding provincial department. The lack of provincial focus should be taken up with the DME by the Chamber of Mines.

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