Toxic City: The Cost of Gold Mining in South Africa
Al Jazeera (2019)
This documentary exposes the high level of uranium and heavy metal contamination in South African townships adjacent to giant gold mining slag heaps. South Africa’s mountains of toxic waste have been building up for decades – their gold mines produced 2.7 tons of toxic slag in 2017 alone.
Still largely white-owned, the country’s gold mines produce only 5 grams of gold for every ton of ore they process. They leave behind untreated slag with large quantities of iron, manganese, nickel, arsenic, lead, cobalt and uranium.
What’s most worrisome, of course, is the 600,000 tons of uranium contained in toxic dunes surrounding Johannesburg. This results in local radiation counts as high as those of the Chernobyl exclusion zone in Ukraine.
French investigative journalist Martin Boudot tests the hair of goats dying of radiation sickness and children afflicted with neurolodevelopmental disorders and other chronic illnesses. According to lab results, the latter suffer from lead and arsenic poisoning.
Thus far, South Africa’s corrupt ANC government has done absolutely nothing to regulate the open disposal of toxic slag by gold mines – nor to investigate the health problems of mainly Black township residents adjacent to toxic sites.
Local activists recently lost a court case against the gold mines because (owing to cost) they failed to present lab evidence of adverse health effects. They hope to reopen the case with the lab results Boudot has provided them.
The film, which can’t be embedded for copyright reasons, can be viewed for free at the Al Jazeera website: Toxic City