Sustainable Development in Mining Communities
The Case of South Africa's West Wits Goldfield
The aim of this study is to identify all the host communities in the West Wits Goldfield in South Africa and to measure a comprehensive set of local Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) indicators, to explore the local variations that are hidden at national and municipal levels, and the implications for communities achieving the SDGs in the context of mine closure. The West Wits is home to over 300,000 people living in 47 diverse communities — towns, mine villages, townships, informal settlements, industrial areas and rural areas. While 23 local SDG indicators were selected, only 13 indicators across 8 SDGs could be measured using census data.
The findings show significant inequality between communities and deprivation in many communities, particularly the informal settlements. There are low levels of education, internet access and employment across the communities, indicating high vulnerability to mine closure. Without major intervention the SDGs will not be met by 2030 and thousands of people in these communities will be 'left behind'. This is even more concerning given the majority of mines are expected to close in the next 10–20 years and the local economy in the West Wits is largely reliant on mining. Achieving the SDGs will require collaboration between multiple mining companies, local government authorities, civil society and communities, and significant, urgent interventions on education and skills development, internet access and employment creation beyond the mining industry.
Abstract based on source.