Sustainable regional planning in a mining environment: Madibeng and Rustenburg municipalities
The study relates to a focused approach evaluating appropriate spatial planning in a mining environment. The 48km long Platinum Reef is situated between Brits and Rustenburg municipalities, located in the North West Province (South Africa). Hans Merensky discovered the Reef in the early 1900s. The North West Province has a definite comparative advantage in the mining sector. It is responsible for 94% of the platinum, 46% of the granite and 25% of the gold produced in South Africa. The mines within the Rustenburg and Brits municipalities produce more platinum than any other single platinum region in the world. The approximate distance between Brits and Rustenburg is 70km. The environmental impact within this region is significant due to the densely populated mining area which consists of 60 mining locations: 20 mineshafts and 40 opencast mines. Although the core development areas of Brits and Rustenburg reflect rapid economic growth, migration between mining activities contributes to the growth of numerous nodal points between the two municipalities. The economic injection by the mining sector, and the developments associated with mining in the area (considered as temporary), have resulted in the rapid growth of development nodes along this platinum reef. The rate at which new nodal points develop, because of agglomeration benefits, hampers regional planning and infrastructure development. Research has shown that unsustainable development of mining towns directly link to the lifespan of the natural resources. As soon as the resource was discovered, the development’s benefits (offered by mining) suddenly appear, and new informal settlements are experiencing poor social-infrastructure conditions. Consequently, this region demands the implementation of functional change in mining towns. Planning authorities cannot meet the demands required by the development caused by the mining activities. Furthermore, mining towns are not necessarily located in the vicinity of core development areas, but rather near mining locations (rural areas) without adequate infrastructure, resulting in unsustainable regional development. The central spatial focus of the proposed study is the change mining activities bring to the physical landscape, as well as in socio-economic relations, directly influencing the people involved and their activities. The challenge relates to “unplanned regional development", which causes change in the physical landscape and results in unsustainable socio-economic activities. The problem statement links to the lack of co-operation between the private sector and municipalities, leading to the deficiency of policy implementation proposed to address sustainable regional development. Local authorities struggle to implement appropriate policy and legislation to support sustainable development and cannot administer the establishment to the necessary infrastructure for nodal expansion. Currently, the impact of the permanent migration to mining activities contributes to unsustainable regional growth. The essence of the problem comprises location, distribution and spatial organisation between core development areas and mining locations. The proposals made in this study are based on the evaluation of the existing state of the identified mining region. As this study is based on qualitative research, the focus was to gain an understanding of underlying reasons, opinions and motivations for current observations. The primary goal is to identify and acknowledge the stakeholders that are responsible to facilitate the rapid growth in the study area, i.e. mining operations and specific role players. The study correlates the relationship between different sectors and their responsibilities, with regional development. The study interprets relevant policies of the role players contributing to sustainable regional development, in order to understand the relationship between regional theory about, and practical necessity for sustainable development. The new sustainable regional strategies establish opportunities to attract further investment in and around the region. In addition, determining the framework necessary for the appropriate integration of development programmes locally, will benefit the region and the nation. Qualitative research assists in formulating a hypothesis for potential quantitative research. Therefore, the combination of theoretical tools (theoretical foundation), with the presence of specific parameter values (South African policymaking processes) in the economies modelled by new economic geography, explains the geographical disparity of the economic landscape as a disturbance of equilibrium. The application of theories is fundamental in policy making as it guides regional development. The central focus emphasises the importance of the policies’ scope. It aims at planning in advance to establish socio-economic specialisation in diverse locations. The circumstances in every individual mining town are unique. Consequently, authentic proposals should be made in each mining region in order to establish sustainable regional development. This study strives to contribute to the promotion and implementation of functional premises in the demarcated region of the survey. The proposals include the co-operation of the mining companies with the government spheres, to such an extent that it could be implemented at all levels of spatial planning. A basis is proposed to align national, provincial and local policies in the promotion of sustainable regional development. This dissertation represents the proposal to establish a sensible, sustainable regional development approach within a mining milieu.