MISSION 30 of 2012 

Name of Mission: Tailings Dams and Mine Dumps – Johannesburg
Date of Mission: 7 December 2012
Aircraft used: Cessna 182
Pilot: Peter Gaddin
Beneficiary: The Foundation for a Sustainable Environment


Objective of the flight

To be able to photograph the scale, proximity and amount of tailings dams that are in and surround Johannesburg, as a result of the last 120 years of mining; to bring the scale of these toxic remains to audiences within and without South Africa, as well as their proximity to urban areas, and how the city has developed around and even on some of these tailings dams.

Pilot’s Report by Peter Gaddin

“The weather on the day of the mission was great and the flight went well with good co-operation from ATC at Lanseria and Rand airports.

Unfortunately we were not able to go east of Rand airport, due to incoming traffic to O.R. Tambo. However, there was still ample material to photograph and Jason seemed happy with what we were able to achieve, despite that fact that the windows of the Cessna 182 open only to about 6 or 8 inches, which required quite a lot of side-slipping in order to get vertical pictures.

I feel sure that this mission was an overall success and I look forward to seeing some of Jason’s work in the near future.”

Beneficiary’s Report by Jason Larkin

“Being able to photograph these mounds from up on high achieved what I was most hoping for: being able to show their vast scale and their worrying proximity to built-up urban areas; to show how industry has developed on and around them, and to capture the massive amount of erosion that is taking place. It also puts into perspective the number of these mounds in and around Johannesburg, even though many believe the vast majority have disappeared. I was able also to get a much better picture of the environmental issues concerning large toxic filled water pits, and how close these are to many informal settlements. 

image003These images will become part of my ongoing body of work around the tailings, including a free publication of the work and the effects of tailings on the environment, which will be included in the package for international media to discuss the tailings and the legacy of the mines. 

The photographs will also be part of a wider awareness story that I hope will reach tens of thousands of people. They will also become important documents and testimonies to Johannesburg’s relationship with its mining history both past and present, and can inform society about the real scale of the problems being faced by the city. I hope it will encourage mining companies to produce tailings dams further away from built up areas and to reclaim remaining tailings as soon as possible.”

I want to express my deepest gratitude and thanks to Peter, he was very accommodating, an excellent pilot, and very clear with all aspects of the flight. I felt in great hands and he helped me obtain some stunning results. Thank you also to The Bateleurs – your support and help has been wonderful. Such a great organisation!”

Conclusion: Was the objective met?

“Peter made me feel very safe and he helped me obtain some stunning photographs – the whole point of the flight.”