In order to measure progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the mining industry, it is necessary to identify the host communities that are directly influenced by mining operations. This is also a requirement of Social and Labour Plans (SLPs) required of mining companies in South Africa to ensure mining contributes to socio-economic development. This paper provides the first comprehensive mapping and classification of all 84 mining host communities (cities, towns and villages) in South Africa that are directly influenced by large-scale mining. The communities are home to 5.4 million people, more than 10% of the national population, and are found mostly in coal, gold, platinum and diamond mining areas. They are classified into four categories based on their population size and the level of influence of mining on each community, calculated using five quantifiable parameters. This classification of communities indicates where mine closure could have significant impact on the local economy, and is relevant for SDG monitoring, designing SLPs and development planning on a local and national level. The methodology for classifying mining communities developed here could be used in any country with a large-scale mining industry that wants mining to make a positive contribution to socio-economic development.