JOZI AND THE WEST RAND
Workshop in South Africa
photographs in the mining belt
Joburg inhabitants say that their city was not founded along a river, but on a carpet of gold. Today, the winning activity left a devastated landscape, heavily polluted.
Gold mines shaped the country's landscape and economy. It is important to say that the gold market is a little different from other markets. Central banks around the world and the international monetary fund play an important regulatory role in the price of gold. In 2004, all these public entities held 19% of the international gold reserve while South Africa was producing 40%.
A gold mine has a short life cycle because of the extraction costs. Thus, when a mine is abandoned, the soil is definitely sterile. Tons of rocks were then moved from the depths and liquefied to extract the valuable material.
The residual product of this process is either sand or mud containing all the other elements previously included in the rocks. Isolated, some of them become very toxic, such as uranium, pyrite, sulphite and other heavy metals. All these materials are dumps open air.
An estimation of 1.3 million peoples live in the slums of the Johannesburg inside mining belt. The poorest people live at the middle of these waste landfill. So the question raised by this workshop was which new cycle(s) after the gold mining ?
This workshop was organized by KU Leuven University (BE) in collaboration with Witswatersrand University in Johannesburg. It was an opportunity to see how a very wide landscape could be affected by human activities. which human settlements emerge in this contexte? And how peoples live there?