Mine closure narratives in Blyvooruitzicht Gold Mine in West Rand, South Africa
Magadzu, Mmboneni Steven
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Mine downscaling and closure have been common in the South African mining industry in the past two decades. Like in other countries, the downscaling and closure of mines has a severe impact on the lives of the mineworkers, local communities and the country’s economy. This study investigates the life experiences of former mineworkers after job loss due to mine closure. Semi-structured interviews were conducted telephonically with former mineworkers from the Blyvooruitzicht Gold Mine in the West Rand, South Africa. Interviewees were recruited through snowball sampling and were asked to tell their life stories about their mine employment and adjustment after the mine’s closure. The study reiterated that local economic activity in mining communities mainly results from mining activities. The study shows that since mine closure also threatened the livelihood of former mineworkers and local communities, mine closure contributed to psychological distress, loss of severance packages, dysfunctional families, corruption, lawlessness, crime, relying mainly on grants for survival and other related social problems. The study recommends intervention through psychosocial support by the government, the mining company and other stakeholders. Capacity-building and quality skills need to be provided to allow labour mobility beyond mining. The profiling of individual families of the former mineworkers to collectively plan and respond appropriately to the needs of individual households in mining areas should be prioritised.