While Africa’s significant mining companies include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, South Africa still has some of the world’s largest and deepest gold mines. There are 86 gold mines in the country, with 41 of them being underground, accounting for around 4.2 percent of global gold production.
South Africa witnessed an economic and development boom from the beginning of mining activities in the late 19th century, thanks in large part to money from the country’s deepest gold mines. These mines are still driving socioeconomic progress in 2022, cementing the country’s status as a global gold centre.
- Mponeng Mine : 4 km
The Mponeng Gold Mine is located in Carletonville, on the northwestern edge of the Witwatersrand Basin, and is the world’s deepest mine. The mine was commissioned in 1987 and is owned and operated by Harmony Gold, which bought it from AngloGold Ashanti in 2020. It has ore grades of over 8 grams per ton and estimated reserves of 45.81 million ounces. The mine is 4 kilometers deep, and the journey from the surface to the bottom takes more than an hour.
2. Savuka Mine: 3.7km
AngolGold Ashanti’s Savuka Gold Mine is South Africa’s second deepest gold mine, with reserves of around 5.26 billion tons. The operating underground mine in Randfontein is 3.7 kilometers deep. Despite reaching 49,000 ounces in 2011, annual production has been steadily declining due to depleted ore stocks. As a result, with the mine nearing the end of its useful life, only the most basic operations are carried out.
3. Driefontein Gold Mine: 3.42km
South Africa’s Driefontein Gold Mine, operated by Sibanye-Stillwater and located inside the West Wits Line Goldfield of the Witwatersrand Basin, is the country’s third deepest gold mine in operation, with production expected to exceed 250,000 ounces in 2020. Over 10,000 people are employed at the mine, which is planned to run until 2030. The mine, which has six producing shaft systems and extracts ore from three reefs, has been in operation since 1952 and also possesses one of the country’s greatest uranium reserves.
4. Kusasalethu Mine: 3.38km
The 3.38km deep Kusasalethu Gold Mine, formerly known as Elandsrand, is Harmony Gold’s deepest mine. The mine is part of the West Wits Line, which is 75 kilometers west of Johannesburg, one of South Africa’s major towns. With reserves estimated at 7.54 million ounces, current production is 445,000 ounces. Harmony Gold, as the mine’s owner and operator, is currently trying to deepen the mine even more in order to extend its operational lifespan by another 18 years.
5. Kloof Mine: 3.34km
The Kloof Gold Mine, currently known as the KDC mine, is also located in South Africa’s famed Witwatersrand Basin and is completely owned by Gold Fields, with operational depths ranging from 1,000 to 3,500 meters. As of 2002, the mine’s three sections, Kloof, Libanon, and Leeudoorn, were combined into one working division. Gold Fields has been conducting a feasibility study for the development of the Kloof Extension Area, targeting an extra two million tons and extending the mine’s operational lifespan, with 2.6 million tons of estimated reserves.