Daggafontein Gold Mine is a disused underground mine in Springs. Here an informal digger, or Zama-Zama, who preferred to remain anonymous, digs for gold-bearing soil on the abandoned dump. Surface diggers usually work in teams of two or three. They spend most of the day sifting several tons of sand into a finer form, removing the larger pieces of rock and stones. The finer sand is washed and the gold sediment is extracted through the addition of mercury. Mercury is a highly toxic substance, which is often handled without safety precautions. The work is labour-intensive and it can take several days before a digger accumulates one gram of gold, which is worth approximately R350. From Legacy of the Mine, 2010–2013
Edition 2/7 + 2AP
Sheet size A2 (420 x 594mm).
Ultrachrome Pigmentprint on Hahnemühle Photo Rag Ultra Smooth Archival Paper 305 g/sqm
Print number: IG1400X-6
For more than a century, South Africa’s demand for gold, diamonds, coal and platinum has gone from strength to strength, often shifting in accordance with the political economy and the availability of foreign markets. Mineral exploitation by means of cheap and disposable labour has brought national economic growth, making the mining industry the largest industrial sector in South Africa. The mine, irrespective of the particular minerals extracted, is central to understanding societal change across the country. The issues it raises in South Africa are evidently comparable to mining concerns around the world. This enabled Ilan Godfrey to channel his conception of the mine into visual representations that gave agency to forgotten communities. The countless stories of personal suffering are brought to the surface and the legacy of the mine is revealed. This is apparent through land rendered unfit for alternative uses, through public health crises within local communities, land and water pollution, and through the disruptive influence of historical labour exploitation impacting on familial structures and cultural positioning. – Ilan Godfrey