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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, vol. 7(12), pages 1-17, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jscscx:v:7:y:2018:i:12:p:259-:d:188873

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Minga Negash & Tesfaye T. Lemma, 2020. "Institutional pressures and the accounting and reporting of environmental liabilities," Business Strategy and the Environment, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(5), pages 1941-1960, July.

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