An amount of R2.1 billion ($190 million) has been earmarked over the next three years to improve housing and living conditions in poor mining communities, according to reports.

Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe made the announcement on Thursday, when he told media the project would be implemented in the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework period.

Informal settlement upgrading

“A total of R290 million has been approved for informal settlement upgrading for the 2014/15 period in mining towns in Mpumalanga, North West, Gauteng, Northern Cape, Limpopo and the Free State,” Minister Radebe said.

The towns were identified by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Revitalisation of Distressed Mining Communities.

The violent labour unrest that has shaken South Africa’s mining industry, including a five-month platinum strike this year, has been blamed in part on the wretched social conditions found in overcrowded shantytowns around the shafts, reported Reuters.

Fourteen towns identified

Jeff Radebe, the planning minister in South Africa’s presidency, said that a government committee on distressed mining communities had identified 14 towns to focus on to improve housing.

This includes Rustenburg west of Johannesburg, the scene of frequent violent labour conflict in grim squatter camps erected near the world’s richest platinum reserves.

Mines minister Ngoako Ramathlodi said the government’s plan did not ‘replace the obligations of the mining companies’, which are required by law to meet a number of social commitments in the communities where they work.

The world’s top platinum producers Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin operate in South Africa, as well as Africa’s biggest bullion producer AngloGold Ashanti.

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