The South African Government has allocated ZAR18 billion ($1.4bn) in an effort to improve the socio-economic conditions of distressed mining communities across the country.
The money will be spent on housing and wellness projects and will be headed by the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) in charge of revitalising mining communities.
“Overall ZAR18 billion has been dedicated to ongoing work in distressed mining communities, benefitting the following provinces: Eastern Cape; Free State; Gauteng; KwaZulu-Natal; Limpopo; Mpumalanga and North West,” says Jacob Zuma, South African President.
“The bulk of this funding is from government, with mining companies contributing approximately a third of the funding.”
The Marikana tragedy, which claimed the lives of 44 people during labour unrest at the Lonmin mine in the North West town during 2012, prompted Zuma to appoint the committee.
IMC will work with business, labour and other sectors and oversee the implementation of integrated and sustainable human settlements.
It will also work to improve living and working conditions of mine workers and determine the development path of mining towns.
In order to better understand the challenges and determine the appropriate actions to address them in each town, the government has undertaken a socio-economic diagnostic study of the 15 prioritised mining towns and 12 prioritised labour sending areas.
As part of the projects, the Department of Human Settlements is implementing about 66 public sector housing projects in the mining towns.
More than ZAR419m ($34m) was spent on informal settlement upgrading in prioritised mining towns in Limpopo, Free State, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and North West provinces during the 2014/15 financial year.
About ZAR1bn ($81m) has been earmarked for the current financial year.
With regard to the wellbeing of the miners, the Department of Health, together with the Departments of Labour and Mineral Resources, is working towards the alignment of the industry’s occupational health and safety policy.
“The Department of Mineral Resources is employing mine accident and occupational diseases prevention mechanisms through improved mine inspections, audits, investigations and monitoring of occupational exposure levels,” says Zuma.
Also, the Department of Mineral Resources and the Department of Health are employing strategic interventions to promote healthy as well as safe working conditions.