Mining and housing: The case of the “Village under the trees” (Kathu – South Africa)

  • Lochner Marais University of the Free State, South Africa
  • Jan Cloete University of the Free State, South Africa
Keywords: mine houses, housing provision and planning, arid nature


Historically, mine-driven housing has been the only housing option for mine employees. Low-income earners were located in single-sex hostels, while more highly-paid employees received a mine house as a fringe benefit. The demise of apartheid saw an initial attempt to transfer housing responsibilities to employees in terms of ownership-related family housing. However, the response in smaller urban centres and among lower-income mineworkers was limited in extent. This article considers alternatives in housing provision and planning, taking into account the realities in the aftermath of apartheid, the global linkages of the mining industry and the arid nature of Kathu’s environment. Essentially, the article argues that, although there are indications of alternative forms of housing and tenure, the boom-bust cycles of mining and the arid nature of the environment are less prominent in the justification of these changes.


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