The History of gold mining in South Africa – Gold in South Africa was first discovered in the late 19th century by two prospectors in Witwatersrand, which triggered the 1886 Witwatersrand Gold Rush. It led to the change of the country from a principally agricultural society to grow into the world’s largest producer of gold today.

This played a significant part in the development of the early Republic of South Africa. Gold mining in South Africa rapidly became the largest and most important part of the country’s economy and it is still a major contributor to its economy.

South Africa was the largest producer of gold for several years before being overtaken by China in 2007. Currently, South Africa is estimated to have the largest amount of gold or gold reserves in the world, representing about 40 per cent of global gold reserves. However, the leading position in the production of gold has been maintained by China.

The main area of gold production in South Africa is the Witwatersrand Basin, which has been mined for over a century, producing gold of over 41,000 tons. The gold deposits that are mined here are unlike most other deposits of gold around the world.

South Africa hosts most of the world’s deepest gold mines in the world. It is also home to two of the world’s top 10 largest mines. South Deep mine, situated south-west of Johannesburg, is one of South Africa’s largest gold mines and is the second-largest in the world. The gold reserves of the mine are estimated to be more than 80 million oz. Moreover, it is the seventh deepest gold mine in the world. Mponeng gold mine, located in Gauteng province in South Africa, is the world’s tenth-largest gold mine and presently the deepest gold mine globally from ground level.

Gold mining in South Africa is usually done using methods such as sluicing, panning, hard rock mining, byproduct mining, and dredging. The most effective gold mining method used in South Africa is hard rock mining. This is because gold reserves are fully covered in rock quite deep underground. 

Employment opportunities in the South African gold sector have continued to drop over the years with fewer workers presently being employed. In spite of this, activities in the gold mining sector are still a major contributor to employment in several communities around South Africa, with each employee supporting more than five other dependents. Each direct job in the gold mining sector leads to other two indirect jobs being generated somewhere else with the services and goods required by the mines to run successfully. As metal detecting specialists we shared the history of gold mining in South Africa.

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