Term: GOLD

A precious metal that has been known and kept for thousands of years as a currency and a way to store value. In the past, South Africa has been the largest supplier of gold in the world. In 1970, South Africa produced 1000 tons of gold – more than all the rest of the world put together. In 2018, we produced only 140 tons – and we were the eighth largest producer in the world. So this industry has largely disappeared and it is no longer our main source of foreign exchange. The problem is that our gold is in “conglomerate form” and it is mostly very deep underground. In fact, South Africa still has about 40% of the world’s known underground reserves of gold, but much of it is just too deep to be mined economically. Our deepest mine in Mponeng which is mining gold at about 4000 meters below the surface. It is also the deepest mine in the world. At that depth the rock temperature is around 60 degrees Celsius. To make it possible for workers to operate in that heat, the mine has the largest crushed ice plant in the world which pumps crushed ice down to the bottom of the mine continuously and then pumps the water back up when it melts and re-freezes it. South Africa also produces the world’s best known gold coin – the krugerrand. There are more krugerrands in circulation than all other gold coins in the world.

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