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Labour migration, settlement and mine closure in South Africa

Article image

Jan Cloete , Lochner Marais

11 August 2020



Mining Towns Librarian, Lochner Marais

Journal article

Centre for Development Support, Municipal Capability & Partnership Programme

South Africa

This article brings together two sets of literature: that on migrant labour and that on mine closures. The authors argue that while the literature has highlighted the inhumane nature of migrant labour, few researchers have reflected on settlement in mining areas in relation to mine expansion and/or the subsequent implications of mine down-scaling.


This article refers to two case studies of mining and migrant labour in South Africa. In the first case study, the authors explore the impacts of mine closure in the Free State Goldfields and argue that migrant labour was, to some extent, a blessing in disguise for the area. In the second case study of the new iron-ore mining area of Kathu, Northern Cape Province, we explore housing developments and argue that many of the same mistakes that occurred in places like the Free State Goldfields are being made in an attempt to reduce the impact of migrant labour.

This resource is part of the Mining Towns Collection kindly sponsored by the Municipal Capability and Partnership ProgrammeAbstract based on source.


Website References

Built environment

Case studies

Economic development

Environmental impact


Human settlements



Mine closures

Mining Towns

Mining Towns Collection

Settlement planning

Settlement structure

South Africa


Urban sprawl


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