My work covering South African mining in 2016/17 largely began at the South African Human Rights Commission's hearing on mining-affected communities last year. The commission's investigation fits with a trend of more focus being placed on the impacts of the country's mining industry on both the populations near operations as well as the rest of the country. To tell environmental stories, I usually need to turn to a human face (many other environmental reporters often turn to an animal one instead) as an anecdote for the impacts of x, y or z. The commission's hearings brought an outpouring of stories from people directly impacted by mining, and those threads are what garnered public attention.
Pictured above, Mbolwa Divele lives about a kilometer inland on the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape. I interviewed him and his brother, who lives one hill over from Mbolwa, about a titanium mine that is proposed not far from their homes. This specific fight gained international attention when the leader of a group called the Amadiba Crisis Committee, which leads the anti-mining movement there, was murdered. Now, another member of the committee has stood up to address the public, a tactic that has proven to work well with journalists.
In all these environmental stories, people are affected somehow, and their stories require careful investigation and coverage. For that reason, my last Photo of the Week from several years of work in South Africa is simply "people."