Up and down in the dumps Featured

Wednesday, 10 July 2013 06:36
Rate this item
(0 votes)

"After the Mines" is a project by photographer Jason Larkin that explores the vast waste dumps created by Johannesburg’s gold mining industry.
After the Mines, published by Fourthwall Books, will be launched at Edition at 44 Stanley on Saturday, July 6 from 12pm.  Ahead of the launch Mariette Liefferink and Jason Larkin have led a tour of the mining region.


Shifting sands: From place of prayer to space for hunting dogs to roam, photographer Jason Larkin has recorded life on Johannesburg’s mine dumps.

Here is an edited extract of the essay by Mara Kardas-Nelson, which accompanies the publication.

There is no Johannesburg without mine dumps.

Fly over the city, and you see them everywhere: next to Soccer City, near the city centre, snuggled next to China Mall, and out in the hinterland beside the city’s few remaining farms. But they are not necessarily here to stay.
Many have been dormant for years. Determined little green spots cling to the tops of some, others are barren, the tallest among them standing proudly against the skyline, passive monoliths watching quietly over the city.
Sandboarders use the dumps as an inner-city playground, claiming that the fine consistency of their dust makes them a better ride than even the famous dunes of Namibia.
Religious adherents seek peace and quiet here.

More importantly, many poor and vulnerable people have made their homes around these dunes. Nearly two million people live on or near the six billion tonnes of mine waste contained in the city’s hundreds of dumps.
In one settlement, a handful of lonely shacks stands between two enormous mine dumps in the middle of Johannesburg’s city centre. The residents, a group of men, were moved there from the city’s hostels when violence broke out between Inkatha Freedom Party and African National Congress supporters in the lead-up to the first democratic elections. They have never left.
One enterprising resident makes money by allowing a wealthy man to keep his hunting dogs in a small pen next to his shack. Much to his neighbours’ chagrin, he lets the dogs roam freely on the dump, exercising them between their weekend hunting jaunts.
As in many of the city’s informal settlements, residents are largely left to their own devices. There is scant electricity here, and a toilet or two serves a group of people.
“The dust is the problem,” says Patience Mmpuagabo in the township of Kagiso, situated next to a dump on Main Reef Road. “It gets all over the house and the kids get sick from it. They cough a lot … I have asthma.’
It’s always the dust. Or the sinkholes, or the shaking, or the polluted water.
One mother says that her son’s autism is directly linked to polluted water from the mines near her house. Those on the farms and in the townships and informal settlements that line Main Reef Road report lung and eye infections, kidney failure, birth defects and cancer. Some farmers and game park owners say that their animals have spontaneously miscarried. All blame contaminated water and air.
As yet, none of these claims has been definitively tied to mine waste. Still, environmentalists say that the only way to ensure adequate protection of humans and the environment is to remove the dumps once and for all — ironically presenting a beautiful win-win for companies interested in making money through remining the dumps.
 
And there is money to be made. Technological advances now make it possible for precious metals to be extracted from the dust. In doing so, mining companies also remove them, thus simultaneously claiming environmental cleanup and the protection of public health while making a buck. Already, since 2005, 40% of the country’s tailings dams have disappeared.
Some companies have made unlikely alliances with environmental groups, funding their educational and advocacy work on the potential health and environmental problems the dumps pose. Communities are then mobilised to support mine-dump removal, clearing the way for companies to remine the tailings.
But arguments have erupted between housing and environmental activists. When environmentalists cried foul at government plans to build RDP houses in Tudor Shaft, the site of a dam contaminated with mine waste — and considered radioactive — they were threatened with violence by the community. People wait years to be allocated an RDP house. The potential threat of cancer is simply not as urgent as the question of where they will live in the coming weeks, months and years.
While residents of informal settlements are caught in the middle of such situations, mining companies are offered another win-win. With environmental and health concerns increasingly in the public consciousness, mining companies can now cite safety concerns when either prompting the government to evict residents, and/or benefiting from the evictions when the government is forced to step in and remove residents.
Once settlements are cleared, the dumps can be remined, with the government footing the bill for relocation costs.
But all of the debates and finger pointing notwithstanding, if things go as planned, the mine dumps as we currently know them will continue to disappear, their contents remined and the waste moved to ‘superdumps’ on the outskirts of the city.
Thus Johannesburg’s future will continue to be shaped by its mining history.
The wayward superdumps that are appearing today may yet become the city’s mountains of tomorrow

Read 25403 times Last modified on Friday, 06 November 2015 07:55

MINING

BASEL GOLD DAY - HOW TO OBTAIN CLEAN GOLD: THE FSE'S PRESENTATION

Please find the following attached for download: 1. Basel Gold Day: How to obtain clean gold - the consumer perspective 2. Basel Gold Day: Presentation by the FSE

PROPOSED ARTISANAL MINING POLICY - DMRE'S PRESENTATION AND FSE'S SUBMISSION

Attached for download: 1. ASM Policy 20202. FSE's Submission...

SA NEWS

FSE - DONATION OF TREES AND TREE PLANTING IN SIMUNYE, WEST RAND IN ASSOCIATION WITH SOUTH DEEP MINE

The FSE, in association with Gold Fields’ South Deep Mine, donated 40 white Karee Trees (Searsia penduline) during Arbor Week to the mining affected community of Simunye in the West Rand and participated in the tree planting ceremony with the community of Simunye, the local Municipality and officials from South Deep Mine.  The FSE also delivered a presentation during the ceremony.

"Varkies" gou op hok, maar als nie pluis | Beeld

Article also available for download as an attachment.

Radon Alert - Carte Blanche

Millions of South Africans are exposed to radioactive radon gas in their homes and workplaces every day, as the naturally occurring gas escapes through cracks in the earth. The second leading cause of lung cancer in several countries, radon breaks down and when inhaled, decaying atoms emit alpha radiation that can damage the DNA. There are no safe levels of radon concentration. The United States Environmental Protection Agency emphasises any radon exposure has some risk of causing lung cancer. Carte Blanche investigates why South Africa has no regulations to protect against radon accumulation in the home and what you can do to test your home and prevent lung cancer.   Watch the video here.

WITS Economics & Finance Courses: Mining for Development: The Taxation Linkage

Economics & Finance Courses at the University of the Witwatersrand. Mining for Development: The Taxation Linkage - Understand taxation for development and sustainability in mining. View the course here. Enrolment starts on the 7th of October 2019.

WATER

UNPACKING THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN WATER

PDF article attached for download.

The Federation for a Sustainable Environment’s ongoing role in addressing the sewage pollution in the Vaal River

‘People the same as pigs’ in the VaalBy Sheree Bega | 16 Oct 2020 Foul: Pigs ro...

POLLUTION OF THE VAAL RIVER INTERVENTION AS PRESENTED at Rietspruit Forum - Aug 2020

The Intervention document is attached for download....