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Posted 02.24.11 | PERMALINK | ESSAY

Dorothy Tang & Andrew Watkins: Ecologies of Gold: The Past and Future Mining Landscapes of Johannesburg



As the first settlers arrived during the gold rush in 1886, Johannesburg and many smaller mining communities grew along a linear mining belt at the northern edge of the Witwatersrand Basin. Over the past century, gold mines and associated facilities, such as mine dumps, have occupied prime real estate in central areas of Johannesburg and its sister city, Ekurhuleni, setting the stage for current land use tensions along the mining belt. The Top Star mine dump, shown here, was constructed from 1899 to 1939, reaching a height of 50 meters and containing 5.1 million metric tons of chemically processed mine waste. In the early 1960s, Top Star was converted into a drive-in movie theater, which showed movies until 2006, when it was shut down by DRD Gold to extract latent gold in the mine waste. The mine dump’s dramatic height within Johannesburg’s urban core offered spectacular views of the Central Business District. [Photo by Dorothy Tang]

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ABOUT THE ESSAY

Ecologies of Gold: The Past and Future Mining Landscapes of Johannesburg
On Places, Dorothy Tang and Andrew Watkins explore the ecological rehabilitation of the defunct gold mines of central Johannesburg.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dorothy Tang is an assistant professor of landscape architecture at the University of Hong Kong.
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Andrew Watkins is an architect and urban designer at SWA in Southern California.
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