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Drosscapes of the GCR

Research on mining activities, for the most part, looks at mining activities and their planning implications as they are today. However, limited research within the GCR has been conducted on the post-mining landscapes of the GCR. This project, initiated in 2019, attends this lacuna, investigating the GCR’s spatial forms as consequences and/or “waste” products of the mining activities within this region. It builds on the Mining landscapes of the GCR (2018) research report, although through an alternative lens of the urban landscapes as dross and drawing inspiration from international studies which look at the post-mining landscape.

The project is framed within the political ecology perspective to create a fertile ground for explaining the interplay between mining and the urban landscape as well as the associated policy implications within the GCR. It then explores the historiography of the GCR’s post-mining landscapes, their locations, their economic, demographic, social, and environmental forms, the scholarly debates and policy work on them as well as issues around their restoration. To that end, the project will use visual, qualitative, quantitative and spatial data as well as policy materials. The main outputs from this project are expected to be a GCRO report and a journal paper.

The current work on the project is a conceptual paper related to the description highlighted above. The final draft of this work has been completed and will be used to inform the the case study selection. The subsequent work, which is expected to culminate in a GCRO research report, focuses on the geography of the GCR’s post-mining landscapes. It will also comprise a compilation of different case studies of this landscape, which will provide grounded and theoretical informed insights into the state of post-mining landscapes in the GCR and their implications for urban, economic and infrastructural development.

Alongside this work, the project team is working with the Centre for Development Support (University of the Free State) in collaboration with the University of Queensland, on a project on mine closures and another on mining towns and traditional communities. The project on mine closures is expected to result in a book on mine closure in South Africa.

Key partners

Relevant WITS and UJ departments, Wits Mining Institute (WMI), Centre for Development Support: University of the Free State, Wits School of Architecture and Planning, government, mining companies and non-profit organisations.



Crous, C., Owen, J.R., Marais, L., Khanyile, S. and Kemp, D. (2020). Public disclosure of mine closures by listed South African mining companies. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management. [Online first]


On 29 September 2021, Samkelsiwe Khanyile attended and participated in a collaborative workshop on the impact of mine dust and water pollution on the children in Snakepark hosted by the Benchmarks Foundation.

On 27 January 2020, Ngaka Mosiane and Samkelisiwe Khanyile attended a workshop at the University of the Free State. The workshop was centered on presenting ongoing work and possible publications by the Mining Towns Research group.

Last updated: 12 November 2021.


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