The impact of a mine’s activities spans decades if not centuries. South Africa is a very good example of how mines have influenced the economic, environmental and social aspects of our country. Even though mining has placed South Africa on the global economic map, the reality is that often the profits are kept in the hands of a few (first with families like the Oppenheimers and now with junior BEE players), the environmental damage is hidden or the responsibility denied, and the fabric of society
destroyed as communities are uprooted, workers poorly paid, and health and safety risks to the workers and communities increased.
South Africa has a comparative advantage in the production of agriculture, mining and manufacturing products relating to these sectors.] South Africa has shifted from a primary and secondary economy in the mid-twentieth century to an economy driven primarily by the tertiary sector in the present day which accounts for an estimated 65% of GDP or $230 billion in nominal GDP terms. The country's economy is reasonably diversified with key economic sectors including mining, agriculture and fisheries, vehicle manufacturing and assembly, food processing, clothing and textiles, telecommunication, energy, financial and business services, real estate, tourism, transportation, and wholesale and retail trade
It is clear that the impacts (both good and bad) of mining begin before a mine is even established and does not disappear with the closure of a mine. The Bench Marks Foundation believes that the mining sector must engage with the communities in which they operate from the inception of a mine to the closure of a mine. It is no longer sufficient to have contact with communities, in close proximity to the mine, only during the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) stag
Once again, these facts are hardly new in the world of South African mining. Behind the squalid settlements that surround the mineshafts there are immense profits to be made. In recent years the platinum mining industry has prospered like no other thanks to the increased popularity of platinum jewellery and the use of the metal in vehicle exhaust systems in the United State and European countries. Production increased by 60 per cent between 1980 and 1994, while the price soared almost fivefold. The value of sales, almost all exported, thus increased to almost 12 per cent of total sales by the mining industry.