The deceptive glitter of gold

CAPITALISM: Established as the second greatest threat to humanity after global warming, the dark heart of mining pollution in South Africa is laid bare.

In Tudor Shaft, a community just outside Johannesburg, the children vomit a lot. They live with their families in makeshift houses without concrete floors — and the earth they live and play on is radioactive. A mining waste dump stands right beside them, and when the wind blows its uranium-heavy dust, once dismissed as harmless «nuisance dust,» coats the settlement. The evidence and anecdotes of health problems are numerous, but the former mine owners have been reluctant to acknowledge a link to a century of mining practices without formal scientific proof from local studies, despite radioactivity levels being fifteen times over the regulatory limit. The dump is just one of 380 radioactive mine residue areas around Johannesburg. The mines of Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest metropolis, have produced a third of all the gold mined in human history. The industry fell apart as the gold started running out, but its dreadful legacy persists, as the city is the world’s most uranium-contaminated.

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Carmen Gray
Freelance film critic and regular contributor to Modern Times Review.

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