WIT Press

Towards A Sustainable Mining Habitat In South Africa


Free (open access)





Page Range

23 - 31




338 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


J. E. Drewes & M. van Aswegen


Mining is South Africa's largest industry in the primary economic sector (2006) and contributed R94,3 billion (US$14,8 billion) or 7% to the country’s Gross Value Added. During this time, the mining industry employed 2,6% of South Africa’s economically active population, which implicates 443 300 employees and households. The isolated location of most of these natural resources has led to a spatially dispersed pattern of mining activities and settlements. Traditionally, mining companies in South Africa provided housing facilities for their employees in unsustainable mining settlements, which usually materialise into ghost-towns when operations close down. Employees are mostly accommodated in company-owned (operation based) housing. Due to the historically patriarchal approach to the provision of housing, a lack of knowledge regarding tenure, investment and financial issues ensued. An emphasis shift has since occurred in some guiding policies in the mining sector (e.g. the Mining Charter) and various spatial planning policies (e.g. the National Spatial Development Perspective) in South Africa. These policies propose a more sustainable approach to settlements in general, but lack specific guidelines relevant to the abovementioned planning practice. This paper will exemplify how the emphasis on creating economically and socially viable communities can potentially realise the global vision of sustainable human settlements (refer to United Nations, Habitat Agenda). It will be argued that emphasis should be on the development of sustainable towns and the encouragement of homeownership. The main objectives of this paper are to provide guidance to mining companies to facilitate housing in sustainable settlements. Keywords: sustainable housing, mining settlements, company town, housing policy, UN Habitat, South Africa.


sustainable housing, mining settlements, company town, housing policy, UN Habitat, South Africa.