SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • artisanal and small-scale mining;
  • corporate social responsibility;
  • South Africa;
  • development

Abstract

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Context
  5. Corporate mining, ASM and brick-making in Indwe
  6. The way forward
  7. Concluding remarks
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. References

Artisanal, or small-scale mining, is widely recognised as a key, but often controversial, survival strategy adopted by low-income communities in the global South. This paper examines how members of one community in South Africa, that of Indwe, in a desperate effort to create self-employment, have initiated micro-level coal-mining enterprises, which have had the downstream effect of supporting local transportation and brick-making operations. Government concerns over the legality of these activities overlie the recent depletion of the local resource and the involvement of a mining corporate in the region. In terms of the way forward, the paper explores the uneasy compromise which has emerged between the corporate's social responsibility initiatives and the suspicions of the artisanal miners.


Introduction

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Context
  5. Corporate mining, ASM and brick-making in Indwe
  6. The way forward
  7. Concluding remarks
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. References

One of the most significant challenges facing communities and households in the global South is the frequent shortage of formal sector employment opportunities. As part of the ‘formal'–’informal’ continuum within labour markets, the significance of the ‘informal sector’ and associated multi-livelihood coping strategies within the complexity of economic livelihoods has been rehearsed in considerable detail in a wide-ranging literature (Binns et al. 2012; Potts 2012). Such strategies, which frequently involve the development of supportive networks of exchange and reciprocity, often skirt the bounds of legality in an endeavour to ensure the survival of marginalised communities. Economic sub-sectors such as artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) have featured prominently in the literature as activities which can play a key role in sustaining community livelihoods, though, like large scale mining, they are also often associated with labour exploitation and illegal practices (Banchirigah and Hilson 2010; Hilson 2003; Maconachie and Hilson 2011a). Case study evidence from around the world has debated the practice, and drawn attention to its challenges and the difficulties associated with attempting to support and formalise it. Hirons (2011) suggests that the artisanal mining sector is a source of livelihood for as many as 100 million people globally, yet to date it ‘has received a low proportion of aid relative to its socio-economic contribution’ (Hirons 2011, 347). Mutemeri and Petersen assert that, ‘if properly regulated and supported, this sub-sector could be the powerhouse of economic development in poor rural communities’ (2002, 292). Despite this positive outlook, ASM suffers from its questionable legal status, associated land-use conflicts and the reality that ‘governments appear to have been quick to ignore ASM in favour of large corporates’ (Andrew and Hilson 2003, 27) because of the ease of dealing with larger concerns and the more direct national benefits that they appear to offer.

In light of the significance of such activities, there is scope to explore whether such practices might be incorporated within local development strategies and planning, and also their relationship with the corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes of more formal mining enterprises. The role of CSR is increasingly recognised by national governments as a way to foster local development, while CSR also gives an opportunity for large corporates to enhance their profile through various forms of social and economic engagement. An emerging literature on CSR and the mining industry indicates that to date corporate support for artisanal mining activities has been difficult to sustain (Duarte 2011; Hamann 2004; Jenkins and Obara 2006; Jenkins and Yakovleva 2006; Kloppers and du Plessis 2008; Yankson 2010). In addition, as Hilson (2009) argues, interventions can often perpetuate inappropriate ‘top-down’ approaches.

One of the most striking features of South Africa's post-apartheid economy has been its woeful inability to generate employment opportunities in spite of bold pronouncements made in national policy documents (Marais 2011). Sadly, despite great optimism over Nelson Mandela's election in 1994, employment generation has been hampered by the phenomenon of ‘jobless growth’, capital intensification of the industrial and mining sectors, job loss occasioned by accession to the WTO, and sluggish performance in light of the global recession (Marais 2011). As a result, communities and individuals are frequently forced to rely on their own skills and locally available resources to eke out a livelihood (Binns and Nel 1999). Contraction of the once important South African mining industry has forced retrenched miners to return to impoverished rural areas where they must seek alternate forms of survival (Binns and Nel 2003). Within this context ASM has emerged as a livelihood strategy of some significance (Mutemeri and Petersen 2002).

While both national and local governments are anxious to encourage local development initiatives and job creation, the magnitude of unemployment in the commercial environment and inherent institutional constraints within local government systems have resulted in what is widely regarded as lacklustre performance, forcing many people to rely on state welfare provision, which is primarily geared to supporting the youth and pensioners. The absence of welfare support for people of working age means that in the absence of formal sector job opportunities self-reliance becomes an urgent imperative (Binns and Nel 1999; Marais 2011). Within this context CSR is emerging in South Africa as an intervention which, though having potential, has also been the subject of criticism (Bond 2008; Kloppers and du Plessis 2008)

This paper explores how a poor community in Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, in the town of Indwe (see Figure 1) has drawn upon its own skills and locally available resources to create a dynamic, albeit semi-illegal, networked local economic system which is based upon linked activities of coal-mining, transportation, brick-making and house-building. As the paper will indicate, despite having been in existence for 10 years, the illegal nature of the mining activity, poor quality of the bricks produced and the recent government support for the activities of a large formal sector coal mining operation in the district are threatening the viability of this community initiative. This discussion lays the basis for exploring the potential role which CSR might play in the future. In terms of the growing literature on ASM, we would argue that this paper extends the discourse by shedding light on how, following rationalisation and job loss in the formal sector, people have resorted to ASM operations, whose existence is now compromised by corporate mining interests which are not able to fully accommodate the needs and suspicions of the miners, despite efforts to provide local support through CSR endeavours.

figure

Figure 1. Map of Indwe

Source: Gibb (2006)

Download figure to PowerPoint

Evidence for this study was derived from a longitudinal investigation undertaken between 2004 and 2005, followed up with field research in 2010. A questionnaire survey was administered to a sample of miners and brick-makers in Indwe, and key informant interviews were undertaken with project and community leaders, local officials, lawyers representing the community, and representatives of Elitheni Coal.

Context

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Context
  5. Corporate mining, ASM and brick-making in Indwe
  6. The way forward
  7. Concluding remarks
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. References

Indwe lies within the municipal district of Emalahleni and straddles the border of the former Transkei homeland, one of the poorest regions of South Africa (Stofile 2001; Woolard 2002). Over and above inherent local economic weaknesses, according to Lahiff (2003), small towns in this part of the Eastern Cape, which once provided a large contingent of the migrant workforce for South Africa's mining and industrial sectors, are now feeling the pinch of reduced remittances from absent family members on account of national trends towards de-industrialisation and mine closure. Nel and Binns (2002) have shown for example that the down-sizing of gold mines in the Free State, which once produced a significant proportion of the world's gold supply, has led to redundancies among mineworkers often drawn from rural localities such as Emalahleni, demonstrating the vulnerability that ripple effects, often linked to global processes, have had on even the most isolated of municipalities (Hilson and Potter 2005; Banchirigah 2006).

It is how municipalities such as Emalahleni and the communities within them respond to the challenges posed by shifting international, national and local forces that is of importance to this article. This becomes especially relevant in Emalahleni where two-thirds of the population is unemployed (Demarcation Board 2003) and are living beneath the poverty line, which gives credence to recent claims by du Toit (2004), a leading national land rights legal expert, that parts of Emalahleni, including those surrounding Indwe, are among the poorest, if not the poorest, in South Africa. How local inhabitants within Emalahleni are able to adapt to global realities, and how they have collectively been able to look at their local assets to cater for local needs is essential to the argument here.

Corporate mining, ASM and brick-making in Indwe

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Context
  5. Corporate mining, ASM and brick-making in Indwe
  6. The way forward
  7. Concluding remarks
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. References

Corporate sector mining

Coal mining began in Indwe in the early 1860s on the Molteno-Indwe field (Peatfield 2002) and, following the development of commercial mining in 1895 by the then Indwe Railway, Collieries and Land Company, the town of Indwe was formally laid out in 1896 (Cobban et al. 2009). Indwe as a town, was then ‘owned, laid out and controlled by the company which possessed the mines’ (Mabin 1987, 4).

In the late 1890s better quality coal was discovered in the Johannesburg area which hitherto had been the primary market for Indwe coal. The decline of this market and organisational problems experienced in managing the local corporation led to the gradual downscaling of local coal production in Indwe in the early 1900s. The effect on the town was dramatic when the mine closed in 1917 with the loss of some 1200 jobs, leading to the closure of small businesses, outmigration of skilled labour and rising unemployment. From 1917 the town was forced to take on a new role, namely that of a minor service centre for the rural hinterland. Figure 2 below reflects the changing number of businesses in Indwe and shows the dramatic ‘boom and bust’ experienced in the mining town, a shock from which the local economy has never really recovered (Mabin 1987; Cobban et al. 2009).

figure

Figure 2. Number of businesses in Indwe between 1894 and 2004

Source: Gibb (2006)

Download figure to PowerPoint

From the early 1900s to the late 1990s Indwe languished as a minor centre which, because of its weak economic base, exported labour to the mines and industries of the interior. Economic shocks in the late 1980s and 1990s, however, led to large-scale retrenchments in those industries (Nel and Binns 2002) leading to the drying up of employment opportunities and the return of many retrenched mine and industrial workers to the area, exacerbating the town's economic misfortunes and generating a local unemployment rate of 68% (Demarcation Board 2003). As will be examined below, the scale of the crisis prompted an innovative, community-based local response which drew on the skills of the returned miners, the local resource of the abandoned coal mine, and the local demand for the product for fuel, and more importantly to produce bricks for the post-apartheid government's housing programme in the area.

Before looking at the community response, it is important to note that since 2007 the prospect of mining in the Indwe area has once again become commercially attractive because of a new ‘circulating fluidized-bed’ (CFB) mining technology (Cobban et al. 2009). With this new technology, Elitheni Coal, a subsidiary of the transnational corporation Strategic Natural Resources, in 2009 obtained the rights to mine the Indwe anthracite coalfields. Local artisanal miners are very concerned by the South African Government's decision to give mining rights to Elitheni, because they feel that the company will effectively ‘steal’ their market. As will be discussed below, there is some scope for the new company to involve the local communities and community businesses through CSR initiatives, however the large-scale nature of the new technology would be a formidable barrier to participation by ASM miners in CFB.

Artisanal mining at Indwe

1998–2006: Initiation and growth of community mining and related enterprises

From the 1990s ASM has emerged, reviving coal-mining activities in Indwe, even though it is on a much smaller scale than was undertaken historically, and is being done by local township residents, in the absence of other logical economic opportunities or any forms of support. Artisanal mining has been present since the early 1990s, but became more organised in 1998 when a retrenched miner, Phikile Skeyi, took the initiative and formed a mining cooperative comprising young men in an effort to stimulate local employment. According to Skeyi, ‘You don't have to wait for the government to come and support you; you will starve to death… we started our own plans’ (Daily Dispatch 2008). As is the case elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, political and economic marginalization underlie the drive to explore the development potential which ASM offers communities (see, for example, Hilson 2012a 2012b; Jonsson and Fold 2009; Mabhena 2012; Maconachie 2009; Maconachie and Binns 2007a 2007b).

It must be pointed out from the start that these are the most basic of operations. They are informal micro-enterprises that are currently operating illegally, without proper licenses, and without meeting the requirements of contemporary workplace health and safety standards. This parallels the stark reality that, internationally, ASM is often hindered by its ‘illegal’ nature (Hilson 2003; Maconachie and Hilson 2011a), due to genuine health and safety concerns or because it is a perceived ‘threat’ to corporate interests. Although some of these entrepreneurs have been working in the area for many decades, and most claim ‘ownership’ over their mine shafts and/or the land on which they operate, they actually have no legal claim to the land, which is owned by the municipality (Gobingca, Mayor, Emalahleni Municipality, pers. comm. 2005). Nonetheless, their efforts illustrate a significant degree of ingenuity on the part of local residents, which has taken place in this particular community, and which further validates the potential merits of endogenously driven community development activities. The collaborative nature of the ventures and the degree of success attained make these particularly interesting cases of locality-based development.

In Indwe, just as the international evidence suggests (Gilman 1999; Hilson 2002; United Nations 2003), a selective global decline in the demand for and extraction of minerals by formal mining sectors causes retrenched miners to resort to small-scale mining activities. In many ways the resurgence of small-scale coal mining in Indwe is the product of a national downsizing in South African mineral production. In this case, many of the new miners were retrenched from gold mines elsewhere in the country. Xegwana (Secretary of the Zama Mine Project, pers. comm. 2002) explained that, included in the tens of thousands of miners laid off from the Free State's Goldfields or from Gauteng's mines, are some former Indwe residents who have returned to their homes. As is becoming apparent in localities around the world facing economic hardships, necessity compelled residents to look to local resources for solutions. It was from these unemployed miners that the first of Indwe's entrepreneurs began looking to the hills above their homes as possible sources of income in the 1990s. Previously acquired skills in the formal mining sector made the choice to become small-scale coal miners a logical step.

In recent years, informal mining at Indwe has been an important source of income for residents who feel they have no other option but to mine illegally in order to eke out a living. Bula (Member, Zama Mine Project, Indwe, pers. comm. 2010) commented that: ‘One of the biggest challenges our community faces is poverty. We are aware that we put ourselves at risk by operating illegally, but we have no choice because we have to put bread on the table’. Mining operations consist of a number of adit mines with horizontal or near horizontal entrances dug into the hillside above the town. The roofs and walls of the adits are supported by wooden props, but collapsed roofs and landslides are recurrent problems and pose serious health and safety issues. Furthermore, there is no ventilation, tools are limited to flattened pikes, often made from metal discarded from the original mine, and lighting is provided through the use of wicks soaked in paraffin in small gin bottles. The miners operate illegally because they do not have the necessary financial resources to obtain legal rights to mine the coal. The mining operations are illegal in terms of South Africa's mining laws and on numerous occasions both the local municipality and the government Department of Mineral and Energy Affairs have ordered the closure of the mines, but owing to people's desperation the activities have persisted (Gibb 2006). A parallel concern has been the environmental impact of the operations, including the stripping of vegetation on hillslopes and subsequent soil erosion. Concerns have been expressed by the Department of Environmental Affairs about these practices (Kwepeli, Municipal Manager, Emalahleni Municipality, Lady Frere, pers. comm. 2005).

In the early years of the twenty-first century, the number of ‘mine operators’ rose to 20, each of whom employed between 4 and 20 labourers, with a combined average production of some 800 tonnes each month (Bula pers. comm. 2005 2010). The growing popularity of coal-mining and the demand for the product which existed at that stage led to the opening of a second mining area and the designation of two separate community mining cooperatives, the Zama Mine Project and the Siyazama Mine Project, by the miners themselves (Xegwana pers. comm. 2005). By this stage artisanal mine ‘owners’ were earning upwards of R1500 per week (approximately US$150), nearly four times the average family income in the town, while their mine workers were earning upwards of R250 (approximately US$25) per week (Emalahleni Municipality 2002; Xegwana pers. comm. 2002). In an area with substantial unemployment, informal employment levels by this stage hovered around 200 workers, but at peak times up to 300 were employed, mainly aged between 20 and 40. Given South Africa's high dependency ratio, this means that mining was making a tangible difference to livelihoods in the local community (Bula pers. comm. 2010).

The primary markets for the coal are the local brick-making enterprises in and around Indwe, and in neighbouring towns such as Queenstown, Cala and Elliot. The South African government's commitment in 1994 to build over 1 million low-income houses helped to create an insatiable demand for local brick production, ensuring the viability of such enterprises, which use clay found around Indwe to make bricks which are fired in kilns fuelled with coal supplied by the community miners. At its peak in 2005, there were 100 brick-making enterprises employing some 500 people (Gibb 2006). A parallel enterprise related to the coal-mining is the transportation of the coal to the brick-makers, which by 2002 involved between four and eight trucks, each belonging to individual trucking entrepreneurs who were also drawn from the local community.

It is apparent that coal-mining has had significant downstream benefits in terms of the development of related enterprises and the creation of hundreds of job opportunities with associated spin-offs in the community. This finding clearly supports the argument by Gibb (2006) and others (see, for example, Banchirigah 2008; Fisher et al. 2009) that informal mining frequently serves as a focal point around which other business opportunities cluster.

2006–2010: Recent developments 

The latter half of the first decade of the twenty-first century was not a particularly fruitful period for the community-based economic endeavours detailed above. Gradual depletion of the coal reserve, declining quality of the coal and the tougher stance adopted by the government towards illegal mining operations, with the threat made to criminalise such activity, have impacted negatively on mining operations (Mining Weekly 2009). While the government seeks to encourage small business activity nationally, the dangerous conditions under which ASM often takes place often precludes government support on health and safety grounds. In terms of brick production, declining yields and quality of the coal have negatively affected the quality of bricks, leading to reluctance on the part of both public and private buyers to continue buying large quantities of bricks from local suppliers, which are now no longer meeting the national quality standards (Key Informant 1, Indwe Mining and Bricks representative, pers. comm. 2010).

In the past, mining at Indwe had been more prosperous for the local miners and brick-makers. Between 2005 and 2010 some 800 tonnes of coal was being mined per month, but by December 2010 this had fallen to only 40 tonnes per month (Bula pers. comm. 2010). Bula stated that this is because, ‘the land is finished and we cannot go deeper. Even the entire mountain is finished because it was mined as early as 1860. We are still operating in these old mines, but it is risky to go even deeper’.

The decline in coal production and prosperity has had a significant impact on the employment situation in the local community, with escalating youth unemployment being a noticeable trend. Bula (pers. comm. 2010) believed that over 300 people were being employed at the height of the local mining operations, 80% of whom were youths. Furthermore, he said that at its peak, the operation was earning miners a total of R152 000 per month (approximately US$15,000) and there was ‘full employment’. The coal was being supplied to local brick-makers who were making 45 000 bricks per month with a business turnover of R185 000 (US$18 000). However, he noted in December 2010, this has significantly reduced, so that fewer than 50 people were then employed. Because of this, ‘between 200 and 300 people are sitting without jobs, but we can pick this up if we get the land to mine, and also get the machinery to work it’. Furthermore, Key Informant 1 stated that, while there are building projects coming to the area, these cannot be supplied with Indwe bricks because of their poor quality. Speaking on behalf of the local brick-makers, he commented that ‘We believe there is no justice. They leave the bricks here and buy bricks from other places. Look at the empowerment, where is the empowerment?’

Bula (pers. comm. 2010) stated that as a consequence of the declining coal resource, ‘there is no work anymore. Now we are faced with alcohol abuse and poverty’. Kilian (n.d., 1–2) comments on the effects of downscaling on communities around mines that had ‘become dependent on the economic opportunities generated by mining, especially within isolated rural areas. Apart from these dependencies and economic impacts, the social impacts are usually felt even more’. Kilian suggests that the social impacts can include poor living standards, social ills, an increase in violence and crime, and also a disregard for traditional culture. The social impacts now being experienced in Indwe are likely to be connected with the significant decline in employment and increasing hardship from the partial demise of illegal mining operations.

Of particular concern to the community miners is the fact that in 2009 a large mining company, Elitheni Coal, was granted prospecting and then mining rights in the area. Even though the company is not operating at the site of the old mine, but rather a few kilometres away, and the target market is not local sales, but rather international export and power generation in a proposed multi-billion dollar power generating plant in the area (Msulu, Elitheni Coal, Port Elizabeth, pers comm. 2010), the local community miners feel threatened by what they perceive as unfair competition and, to some degree, betrayal by the government for supporting corporate interests over community concerns. While the Indwe miners have no legal grounds on which to prevent Elitheni mining near their town, and the new Elitheni mine is outside of their traditional area of interest, they nevertheless feel that they have been overlooked and are powerless. The miners want support from the government to enable them to mine on what they consider to be their land, ‘they are not looking for a handout, they are looking for support to benefit generations to come. This is their land’ (Key Informant 2, Indwe Mining and Bricks representative, pers. comm. 2010).

The beginning of the present decade has been marked by both job loss and a sense of betrayal. In response, the former coal and brick-making associations have been amalgamated into a single association called ‘Indwe Mining and Bricks’, in an attempt to strengthen their ability to ‘fight’ against the South African government's decision to award mining rights in the area to Elitheni Coal. The informal miners are essentially powerless, but feel that the land nearer Indwe is rightfully theirs and are passionate about mining, as they recognise that, ‘here in Indwe, there are no other jobs except this coal’ (Bula pers. com. 2010). Indwe Mining and Bricks ultimately want power. They are historically disadvantaged people who want their illegal mining operations formalised. They lack education and do not have the financial means to do this, and feel powerless against a transnational mining company which has gained mining rights, and which will benefit substantially. ‘It is just sad that our destiny lies in the hands of the British company when we were born and bred in this country. It is not fair’, commented Key Informant 1 (pers. comm. 2010).

The way forward

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Context
  5. Corporate mining, ASM and brick-making in Indwe
  6. The way forward
  7. Concluding remarks
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. References

While at one level the future of ASM in the area is insecure due to the depletion of the resource at the old mine, its declining quality and the government's tougher stance on what they regard as illegal mining, at another level there is the question as to what the stance of the new corporate will be to ASM in their neighbourhood. As has happened around the world, large corporates, either through legal or moral compulsion, or even a genuine sense of the need to be good corporate citizens, are actively engaging with the concept of CSR. There is a burgeoning literature on this, and a recent issue of the journal Resources Policy focuses specifically on CSR and extractive industries in developing countries (see, for example, Campbell 2012; Hilson 2012c). A common theme in companies engaging with communities in relation to mining activities is the issue of ‘rhetoric versus reality’, where corporates celebrate their collaboration with communities, yet CSR policies do not actually lead to any tangible benefit for communities. Case studies often reveal community–company tensions, frequently as a result of companies having an inadequate understanding of the social contexts in which they are operating (Hilson 2012c).

The requirement to take CSR activities seriously is all the more immediate in South Africa, where mining companies are legally obligated to engage in CSR initiatives to improve the social and economic environment in which they operate (Hamann 2004; Jenkins and Yakovleva 2006). In South Africa, the Broad-Based Socio-Economic Empowerment Charter and the Mineral and Petroleum-Resources Development Act require mining companies to assess and consider the impact of their operations (Kilian n.d.). Mines are required to ‘develop and implement Social and Labour Plans which focus on promoting the long-term development of their workplaces, employee households, communities and region’ (Kilian n.d., 1). While tension exists over the implementation of such arrangements and accusations of corporate ‘white-’ and ‘green-washing’ can be made, in general terms, in the case of Indwe, there is, through CSR, some scope to engage with the artisanal miners. Elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, in the context of Ghana's gold-mining industry, Aubynn provides an interesting analysis of the relationships between a company, Abosso Goldfields Limited (AGL), and artisanal miners, concluding that large companies and artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) can coexist. Aubynn argues that large companies must, ‘begin viewing the ASM issue as an integral part of corporate social responsibility agenda’ (Aubynn 2009, 70).

In terms of commercial mining, the company's mining proposal is extensive and should create significant business opportunities in Emalahleni and Indwe in particular, which in turn should generate notable employment opportunities and boost the local economy. Key informant 2 (pers. comm. 2010) stated that Elitheni Coal has proven that 200 million tonnes of coal exist in the area. However, this is on less than 3% of the physical land area of the district and Elitheni believe there may be more than 1 billion tonnes of coal in the area. A senior representative of Elitheni Coal in Port Elizabeth commented that Elitheni plan to export an initial amount of between 2 and 3 million tonnes of coal per annum out of East London harbour in 2012. Thereafter, Elitheni plans to export up to 10 million tonnes of coal from the new industrial port at Nhqura, near Port Elizabeth. The first exports to Brazil commenced in December 2012 (Daily Dispatch 2012). Additionally, roads are to be built from the mine and other roads are to be refurbished. Elitheni believes that in 10 years, Indwe will be a ‘mega town’. The company thinks that R10 billion (US$1 billion) will be injected into the area over the next 5 years, and in 10 years, 15 million tonnes of coal will be exported each year to various countries and projects, including a planned power plant in Indwe. In terms of employment, Elitheni believes that for every 1 million tonnes of coal that is extracted per annum, 700 jobs are projected to be created. Furthermore, the company is of the opinion that, in these rural areas, as many as 7000 people could benefit indirectly from opportunities created. However, it can be speculated that this export and energy driven industry will have a finite life, resulting in the long-term instability of a ‘boom and bust’ scenario for the local population.

CSR initiatives undertaken to date in Indwe and surrounding areas include the establishment of a children's home, a business support and services centre, the development of a Social and Labour Plan, a skills audit of the area, a parallel business profile and a range of road and school upgrading initiatives. In the long term the company believes that their operations will create 3500 direct jobs, excluding the envisaged 1000 in the power plant and in freight and logistics operations (Elitheni Coal 2010a 2010b). In terms of the ASM operations, the corporate is not unsympathetic to the miners' situation, and even though it sees their operation as illegal, in 2010 they offered three alternatives to the miners. These were: the opportunity to work for Elitheni; helping the local ASM miners to find a new source a coal and helping arrange the necessary permits to legalise operations; or becoming subcontractors on the new mine (Msulu pers. comm. 2010). The miners opted for the second alternative which would allow them to retain the independence of their operations. At the time of writing there is no evidence that new land or permits have been secured and, in parallel, the brick-makers do not appear to have benefited in any way from these new arrangements. Support for the spin-off local brick-manufacturing industry is an aspect that may be missing from Elitheni's corporate responsibility interventions. In a focus group meeting held with the miners in December 2010 it was apparent that the miners are suspicious of corporate involvement with their activities and doubt their own ability to meet the expectations which Elitheni is placing on them. In addition, they resent what they see as the government favouring the corporate over them through the award of a mining license. Clearly, if they had their way, they would like to remain as independent operators (focus group meeting, Indwe, December 2010). While they would like to halt the operations of Elitheni, they are powerless to do so, and their sense of frustration is evident in the words of Key Informant 2 (pers. comm. 2010): ‘You know when you are in a place like this (Indwe) you feel so isolated, and the people up there can't hear you talking. People can become very frustrated when their efforts are just swept under the carpet’.

Concluding remarks

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Context
  5. Corporate mining, ASM and brick-making in Indwe
  6. The way forward
  7. Concluding remarks
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. References

The plight of the ASM operators and brick-makers in Indwe once again illustrates the vulnerability of low-income communities in a neoliberal age when lack of, or loss of, formal sector employment prospects has forced people to adopt desperate measures in order to survive (Gueye 2001; Andrew 2003). But even their alternative solutions have unfortunately brought them into conflict with state legal requirements, and they face natural resource limitation and, more recently, corporate dominance. While it would be difficult to condone the operating conditions of the ASM from a health and safety perspective, the human tragedy of what is taking place as people try and survive in a hostile and seemingly unsupportive environment does raise questions of social justice. While the CSR endeavours of the company are commendable, as are offers to employ the local miners, there remains on the side of the ASM miners considerable suspicion of what the corporate is doing and an apparent failure to appreciate that these miners, many of whom were previously retrenched by other formal mining sector operations, desire their autonomy. On the positive side, despite these very apparent current constraints, it has been both impressive and inspiring that unemployed people and retrenched miners with only their own skills, vision, ingenuity and local resources to draw upon have actually set up a robust, albeit illegal, networked economy which mined coal, supported a trucking industry and in turn supplied a major community-based brick-making endeavour, which has been able to supply bricks to formal sector markets. Indwe, in many respects, represents a microcosm of international debates pertaining to artisanal mining, including the questions of local economic impact, legality, sustainability, health and safety, and environmental concerns (United Nations 2003; Hilson 2002; Tráore 1994). In parallel, interventions, as elsewhere, seem to be perpetuating ‘top-down’ practice (Hilson 2009) without fully engaging with the local community.

At a broader level, this study's findings support the conclusions of other research about the significance attached to diversified livelihood portfolios in mining areas in the global South (Bryceson and Jonsson 2010; Hilson 2011; Maconachie 2011). However, while there is some validity in Maconachie and Hilson's (2011b) argument that ASM has significant potential to address unemployment, and youth unemployment in particular, as we have demonstrated, where corporate mining is also present, there is potential for either collaboration or tension between the two types of operations. Despite this risk of conflict, potential synergies between these different operations do exist, especially in parts of the South, such as South Africa, where large and sophisticated mining operations exist in parallel with ASM. In light of the fragile and dubious health and safety aspects of the ASM operations in Indwe, what seems to be needed to ensure the future economic sustainability of the community is for the corporate, Elitheni Coal, to embrace the community, to draw on its labour force with its associated skills, and in so doing re-shape mining enterprises in the region.

In South Africa, where CSR is embedded in its mining legislation, there seems to be considerable scope for both corporate mining enterprises and host communities to enter into meaningful forms of engagement and CSR. However, as this study has shown, such forms of interaction will require a degree of compromise on the part of both entities. It seems important that the longstanding stake and involvement of the community in mining operations in the area need to be recognised. In addition, the local municipality appears to have been rather inactive to date and, given the ‘developmental local government’ mandate which municipalities in South Africa now have, it is incumbent upon the municipality to engender a spirit of both local compromise and development in local planning (Binns and Nel 1999; Van Donk et al. 2008). In particular, there is a need for community leaders to be incorporated into the decisionmaking processes, such that there is sensitivity in the relationship between company and local community, rather than pursuing a top-down approach with limited dialogue between the different parties.

Acknowledgements

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Context
  5. Corporate mining, ASM and brick-making in Indwe
  6. The way forward
  7. Concluding remarks
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. References

The authors are grateful to the Editor and two reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper. The assistance of James McKibbin with the field research in 2010 is acknowledged.

References

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction
  4. Context
  5. Corporate mining, ASM and brick-making in Indwe
  6. The way forward
  7. Concluding remarks
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. References
  • Andrew J S 2003 Potential application of mediation to land use conflicts in small scale mining Journal of Cleaner Production 11 117130
  • Andrew J S and Hilson G M 2003 Land-use disputes between small- and large-scale miners in Hilson G ed The socio-economic impacts of artisanal and small-scale mining in developing countries A A Balkema, Lisse 2544
  • Aubynn A 2009 Sustainable solution or a marriage of inconvenience? The co-existence of large-scale mining and artisanal and small-scale mining on the Abosso Goldfields concession in Western Ghana Resources Policy 34 6470
  • Banchirigah S M 2006 How have reforms fuelled the expansion of artisanal mining? Evidence from sub-Saharan Africa Resources Policy 31 165171
  • Banchirigah S M 2008 Challenges with eradicating illegal mining in Ghana: a perspective from the grassroots Resources Policy 33 2938
  • Banchirigah S M and Hilson G 2010 De-agrarianization, re-agrarianization and local economic development: re-orienting livelihoods in African artisanal mining communities Policy Sciences 43 157180
  • Binns T and Nel E 1999 Beyond the development impasse: local economic development and community self-reliance in South Africa Journal of Modern African Studies 37 389408
  • Binns T and Nel E L 2003 The village in the game park: community response to the demise of coal mining in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa Economic Geography 79 421466
  • Binns T, Dixon A and Nel E 2012 Africa: diversity and development Routledge, London
  • Bond P 2008 Social movements and corporate social responsibility in South Africa Development and Change 39 10371052
  • Bryceson D F and Jonsson J B 2010 Gold digging careers in rural east Africa: small-scale miners' livelihood choices World Development 38 379392
  • Campbell B 2012 Corporate social responsibility and development in Africa: redefining the roles and responsibilities of public and private actors in the mining sector Resources Policy 37 138143
  • Cobban D, Rossouw J, Versfeld and Nel D 2009 Water quality considerations for opencast mining of the Molteno coal field, Indwe, Eastern Cape Paper produced for the International Mine Water Conference Pretoria South Africa 1923 October
  • Daily Dispatch 2008 Old Indwe coal mine gives daily bread, 16 September (www.venture, dispatch.co.za) Accessed 1 December 2010
  • Daily Dispatch 2012 Eastern Cape coal to burn in Brazil, 14 December (www.venture, dispatch.co.za) Accessed 8 January 2012
  • Demarcation Board 2003 Profile of the Eastern Cape (www.demarcation.org.za) Accessed 6 October 2003
  • Duarte F 2011 What does a culture of corporate social responsibility look like International Journal of Business Anthropology 2 106122
  • du Toit P 2004 The great South African land scandal Legacy Publications, Centurion
  • Elitheni Coal 2010a Eastern Cape coalfield development progress Update Report Port Elizabeth
  • Elitheni Coal 2010b Elitheni Coal social and labour plan Report Port Elizabeth
  • Emalahleni Municipality 2002 Emalahleni municipality integrated development plan, Lady Frere
  • Fisher E, Mwaipopo R, Mutagwaba W, Nyange D and Yaron G 2009 Artisanal mining and poverty reduction in Tanzania Resources Policy 34 3238
  • Gibb M W 2006 The global and the local: a comparative study of development practices in three South African municipalities Unpublished PhD thesis Department of Geography, Rhodes University
  • Gilman J 1999 Artisinal mining for sustainable livelihoods (www.undp.org) Accessed 6 October 2003
  • Gueye D 2001 Small scale mining in Burkina Faso: mining, minerals and sustainable development International Institute for Environment and Development, London
  • Hamann R 2004 Corporate social responsibility, partnerships, and institutional change: the case of mining companies in South Africa Natural Resources Forum 28 278290
  • Hilson G 2002 Promoting sustainable development in Ghanaian small-scale gold mining operations The Environmentalist 22 5157
  • Hilson G ed 2003 The socio-economic impacts of artisanal and small-scale mining in developing countries A A Balkema, Lisse
  • Hilson G 2009 Small-scale mining, poverty and economic development in sub-Saharan Africa Resource Policy 34 15
  • Hilson G 2011 Artisanal mining, smallholder farming and livelihood diversification in rural sub-Saharan Africa: an introduction Journal of International Development 23 10311041
  • Hilson G 2012a Family hardship and cultural values: child labour in Malian small-scale gold mining communities World Development 40 16631674
  • Hilson G 2012b Poverty traps in small-scale mining communities: the case of sub-Saharan Africa Canadian Journal of Development Studies/Revue Canadienne d'Etudes du Developpement 33 180197
  • Hilson G 2012c Corporate social responsibility in the extractive industries: Experiences from developing countries Resources Policy 37 131137
  • Hilson G and Potter C 2005 Structural adjustment and subsistence industry: artisanal gold mining in Ghana Development and Change 36 103131
  • Hirons M 2011 Managing artisanal and small-scale mining in forest areas: perspectives from a post-structural political ecology The Geographical Journal 177 347356
  • Jenkins H and Obara L 2006 Corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the mining industry – the risk of community dependence (www.crrconference.org/downloads/2006jenkinsobara.pdf) Accessed 16 December 2011
  • Jenkins H and Yakovleva N 2006 Corporate social responsibility in the mining industry: exploring trends in social and environmental disclosure Journal of Cleaner Production 14 271284
  • Jonsson J B and Fold N 2009 Handling uncertainty: Policy and organizational practices in Tanzania's small-scale gold mining sector Natural Resources Forum 33 211220
  • Kilian J-M n.d. Addressing the social impact of mining activities on communities for sustainability' (www.swc.org.za/own_uploads/SIA.pdf) Accessed 16 December 2011
  • Kloppers H and du Plessis W 2008 Corporate social responsibility, legislative reforms and mining in South Africa Journal of Energy and Natural Resources Law 26 91119
  • Lahiff E 2003 Land reform and sustainable livelihoods in South Africa's Eastern Cape Province Institute for Development Studies, Port Elizabeth
  • Mabhena C 2012 Mining with a ‘Vuvuzela’: reconfiguring artisanal mining in southern Zimbabwe and its implications for rural livelihoods Journal of Contemporary African Studies 30 219233
  • Mabin A 1987 Land, class and power in peripheral mining communities: Indwe 1880–1920 Paper presented at the Wits History Workshop: The Making of Class 9–14 February
  • Maconachie R 2009 Diamonds, governance and ‘local’ development in post-conflict Sierra Leone: lessons for artisanal and small-scale mining in sub-Saharan Africa? Resources Policy 34 7179
  • Maconachie R 2011 Re-agrarianising livelihoods in post-conflict Sierra Leone? Journal of International Development 23 10541067
  • Maconachie R and Binns T 2007a ‘Farming miners' or mining farmers’?: Diamond mining and rural development in post-conflict Sierra Leone Journal of Rural Studies 23 367380
  • Maconachie R and Binns T 2007b Beyond the resource curse? Diamond mining, development and post-conflict reconstruction in Sierra Leone Resources Policy 32 104115
  • Maconachie R and Hilson G 2011a Safeguarding livelihoods or exacerbating poverty? Artisanal mining and formalization in West Africa Natural Resources Forum 35:293303
  • Maconachie R and Hilson G 2011b Artisanal gold mining: a new frontier in post-conflict Sierra Leone? Journal of Development Studies 47 595616
  • Marais H 2011 South Africa pushed to the limit: the political economy of change Zed Books, London
  • Mining Weekly 2009 SA govt working on a plan to deal with illegal mining, 23 June (www.miningweekly.com) Accessed 1 December 2010
  • Mutemeri N and Petersen F W 2002 Small-scale mining in South Africa: past, present and future Natural Resources Forum 26 286292
    Direct Link:
  • Nel E L and Binns T 2002 Decline and response in South Africa's Free State goldfields International Development Planning Review 24 249269
  • Peatfield D 2002 Coal and coal preparation in South Africa – a 2002 review Journal of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy 335372
  • Potts D 2012 Urban livelihoods and urbanization trends in Africa: winners and losers? Local Economy (in press)
  • Stofile M A 2001 Launch of rural development programmes, speech (www.info.gov.za/speeches/2001) Accessed 28 June 2005
  • Tráore P A 1994 Constraints on small-scale mining in Africa Natural Resources Forum 18 207212
    Direct Link:
  • United Nations 2003 Developments in small-scale mining Economic and Social Council, New York
  • Van Donk M, Swilling M, Pieterse E and Parnell S 2008 Consolidating developmental local government: lessons from the South African experience Juta, Claremont
  • Woolard L 2002 An overview of poverty and inequality in South Africa (www.Sarpn.org.za/CountryPovertyPapers/South%20Africa/) Accessed 28 June 2005
  • Yankson P W K 2010 Gold mining and corporate social responsibility in the Wassa West district, Ghana Development in Practice 20 354366