Legacy of the Mine


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For over ten years, photographer Ilan Godfrey has been exploring the societal changes of South Africa. For "Legacy of the Mine", he delved into the South African mining industry; an industry which has impacted the country in many ways.

As the largest industrial sector in South Africa, mining has brought about national economic growth, employing an estimated half a million people. However, the many environmental as well as social impacts of the mine are prevalent in all aspects of South African society. Manmade mine dumps litter Johannesburg’s skyline, adding pressure to a developing economy to find ways to tackle this incurring environmental threat. Communities residing near mines are threatened by air and water pollution, while physical hazards are posed by sites containing open shafts and unstable ground. With the world wide economic slowdown, the cost of mining gold has become less profitable, resulting in the expansion of other mining industries such as coal. Coal mines unexpectedly open on farmlands, resulting in loss of land for numerous farmers. 

Exploitation, corruption and greed now threaten the land. Once a symbol of wealth and a formidable force, the mine today reveals the scars of neglect and decay and poses an irreversible threat to South African society.