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Mining and industrial arc of the GCR

This project examines the rise and fall of mining and manufacturing industries in the east, south and western edges of the GCR. Mining, coupled with energy and other industries, laid the basis for South Africa’s manufacturing up to the 1960s. The book will revisit the spatial dynamics of these mineral and manufacturing changes. Moreover, the environmental damage of the Witwatersrand landscape is in part related to gold mining is widely documented – acid mine drainage, harmful radiation levels, the inhalation of particulate matter by particular communities and the use of cyanide and other chemicals in the processing of minerals.

The spatialities of manufacturing industries in the GCR have received significant attention from academics such as Christian Rogerson and Owen Crankshaw. Part of that work includes the costs of land and production in the city centres – industrial activity sought to lower those costs by locating industries in the peripheries, effectively increasing the economic prospects of those previously lagging areas. Other aspects of that academic work focused on restructuring city-regions’ economies, shifting from primary to tertiary activities. That changing space economy, including that of the core-periphery relationships, does not mean that mining and manufacturing enjoy new life – just further afield – but rather that manufacturing declines throughout, and the peripheries of city-regions are permanently left behind as tertiarisation concentrates growth in the core.

This book will draw from these sets of debates on the political ecology of the GCR, its spatial and economic shifts and peripheral centralities to create a fertile ground for discussing those changing mining and manufacturing space economies and the extent to which associated environmental effects continue to threaten many new development possibilities across the GCR landscape. The book, an edited collection, will focus on the towns and urban fragments that make up the mining and industrial arc from the far East Rand to the West Rand, i.e. the originally coal-based, now declining manufacturing centres such as Germiston, Springs and Nigel; the mining and energy based towns of Emalahleni/Witbank and Secunda; the collapsing manufacturing centres of the Vaal Triangle (Vereeniging, Vanderbijlpark, Sasolburg); and the distressed mining towns of the West Rand.


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