On the 30-minute drive from Somkhele mine to the northern KwaZulu-Natal town of Mtubatuba, the fruits of the open-pit anthracite operation are evident: expensive houses line the hillsides around the mine, and there are spaza shops, a clinic, a brickyard and a health research institute.

Look closer, though, and the signs of dilapidation are starting to show. The grass at the health institute is uncut, the shelves of the spaza shops are half-empty, the brickyard is devoid of any bricks...

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