IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Mining Corporations, Democratic Meddling, and Environmental Justice in South Africa


  • Llewellyn Leonard

    () (Department of Environmental Science, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, University of South Africa, Science Campus, Florida 1709, South Africa)


During Apartheid, the mining industry operated without restraint and compromised the ecology, the health of mining workers, and local communities. The lines between the mining industry and government was often unclear with the former influencing government decisions to favour uncontrolled operations. Although new post-Apartheid regulations were designed to control negative mining impacts, the mining industry and the state still have a close relationship. Limited academic research has empirically examined how mining corporations influence democracy in South Africa. Through empirical investigation focusing on Dullstroom, Mpumalanga and St. Lucia, KwaZulu-Natal, this paper examines how mining corporations, directly and indirectly, influence democratic processes at the macro state and micro community levels. At the macro level, this includes examining mining companies influencing government decision-making and enforcement to hold mines accountable for non-compliance. At the micro level, the paper examines mining companies influencing democratic processes at the local community level to get mining developments approved. Findings reveal that political connections between the mining industry and government, including collusion between mining corporations and local community leadership, have influenced mining approval and development, whilst excluding local communities from decision-making processes. Industrial manipulation has also influenced government in holding corporations accountable. This has contributed towards not fully addressing citizen concerns over mining development. Democracy in post-Apartheid South Africa, especially for mining development is, therefore, understood in the narrow sense and exposures the realities of the ruling party embracing capitalism. Despite challenges, civil society may provide the avenue for upholding democratic values to counter mining domination and for an enabling political settlement environment.

Suggested Citation

  • Llewellyn Leonard, 2018. "Mining Corporations, Democratic Meddling, and Environmental Justice in South Africa," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(12), pages 1-17, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jscscx:v:7:y:2018:i:12:p:259-:d:188873

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Carl Henrik Knutsen & Andreas Kotsadam & Eivind Hammersmark Olsen & Tore Wig, 2017. "Mining and Local Corruption in Africa," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 61(2), pages 320-334, April.
    2. Melinda Vaughn & Lori Verstegen Ryan, 2006. "Corporate Governance in South Africa: a bellwether for the continent?," Corporate Governance: An International Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(5), pages 504-512, September.
    3. Deval Desai & Michael Woolcock, 2012. "The politics of rule of law systems in developmental states: 'political settlements' as a basis for promoting effective justice institutions for marginalized groups," Global Development Institute Working Paper Series esid-008-12, GDI, The University of Manchester.
    4. Dirk Matten, 2004. "The impact of the risk society thesis on environmental politics and management in a globalizing economy -- principles, proficiency, perspectives," Journal of Risk Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(4), pages 377-398, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    mining; democracy; environmental justice; government; South Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • A - General Economics and Teaching
    • B - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology
    • N - Economic History
    • P - Economic Systems
    • Y80 - Miscellaneous Categories - - Related Disciplines - - - Related Disciplines
    • Z00 - Other Special Topics - - General - - - General


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:gam:jscscx:v:7:y:2018:i:12:p:259-:d:188873. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (XML Conversion Team). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.