THE PLATINUM BELT
Spanning several years, my initial documentation of the mining sector in South Africa culminated in a body of work between 2011 and 2013 that would encompass a number of minerals that have directly influenced the shaping of the South African landscape. Revealing land rendered unfit for alternative uses such as agriculture and cattle grazing, a public health crisis within local communities unequipped to cope with the burden of air, land and water pollution and through the disruptive influence of historic labour exploitation impacting on family structures and cultural positioning.
South Africa has been associated with mineral wealth, both in diversity and abundance for more than a century and in recent years the demand for platinum, of which South Africa holds the majority of the world’s reserves, has grown exponentially. Platinum in particular has ignited global discussion, questioned mining practices locally and abroad and resulted in a commission of inquiry that lasted 300 days.
With the support of a grant from the Open Society Foundation for South Africa, I returned to the north of the country in early 2016 with the aim of building on from previous projects concerned with transparency and accountability in South Africa’s mining industry, and to raise further awareness around the impacts of mining.
The narrative ultimately revealing an in-depth investigation into the human, social, environmental and health costs of platinum mining in South Africa, documenting the communities that have grown and straddle the Northern, Eastern and Western Limb that make up ‘The Platinum Belt’ also known as the mineral rich ‘Bushveld Complex’.
Questions are raised and directed at the platinum mining industry traversing three provinces across more than 50 000 kilometres and is home to 80 percent of the worlds known platinum reserves. It supplies around 70% of the world’s platinum.