South Africa is home to some of the world’s largest gold mines and accounts for approximately 4.2% of the world’s production of the precious metal. The Witwatersrand Basin is one of the largest gold deposits in the world and contains the majority of the country’s gold resources. The elliptical basin stretches over an area of over 400km through the Free State, North West and Gauteng provinces and features operational depths that reach up to 4km.
The discovery of gold in the late 19th century led to a gold rush that spawned the development of Johannesburg, one of South Africa’s capitals, and was instrumental in the development of the country’s economy and growth during the 20th century. In 2019, the mining of gold contributed approximately $23.9 billion to South Africa’s GDP.
MPONENG GOLD MINE – 45.81 MOZ
Located on the northwestern rim of the Witwatersrand Basin in Gauteng, the Mponeng gold mine is the deepest in the world from ground level and at average depths of between 2,800m and 3,400m, the descent from the surface to the bottom of the mine takes over an hour. The mine is also one of the richest in the world, with ore grades of over 8 grams per ton and contains gold reserves estimated at 45.81 million ounces (Moz). Expected to be in operation until 2027, the mine was purchased from AngloGold Ashanti by Harmony Gold in 2020.
SOUTH DEEP GOLD MINE – 32.8 MOZ
Located in the Witwatersrand Basin in the Gauteng province, the South Deep gold mine has estimated reserves of 32.8 Moz. With a depth of 2,995m below the surface, the mine is also the seventh deepest in the world and contains a large resource base of uranium. The mine was acquired by Goldfields in 2006, and is owned through its subsidiary, Newshelf 899, now operated by GFI Joint Venture Holdings Proprietary and Gold Fields Operations.
KUSASALETHU MINE – 7.54 MOZ
The Kusasalethu gold mine, formerly known as Elandsrand, located 75km west of Johannesburg, forms part of the West Wits Line. With an annual production of 445,000oz and proven reserves of 7,54Moz, the mine is currently being deepened to extend its operational lifespan by a further 18 years. The mine is owned by Harmony Gold and is operated at a depth of 3,388m, Harmony’s deepest mine.
BLYVOOR GOLD MINE – 5.32 MOZ
Established in 1937, the Blyvoor gold mine was the first in the West Wits line and, due to its widespread reserve base, is expected to retain its lifespan until 2030. Blyvoor contains an estimated 5.32 Moz of proven ore reserves and is operated by DRDGOLD SA. The underground mine is located 70km southwest of Johannesburg in the northwestern section of the Witwatersrand Basin and contains two gold-bearing horizons, the Carbon Leader Reed and Main Reef, with formation thicknesses of between 5 and 20cm.
KLOOF GOLD MINE – 2.6 MOZ
Located approximately 60km southwest of Johannesburg in the Witwatersrand Basin, the Kloof gold mine is wholly owned by Gold Fields and consists of three sections: Kloof, Libanon, and Leeudoorn, which were all consolidated under one operating division in 2002. Operating at depths of between 1,000m and 3,500m, the mine has estimated ore reserves of 2.6 Moz, with depletion of these reserves estimated for 2021. Gold Fields has been conducting a feasibility study into the development of the Kloof Extension Area to target a further two Moz from the Ventersdorp Contact Reef resource.
EAST DRIEFONTEIN MINE – 2.5 MOZ
Located 60km southwest of Johannesburg, the East Driefontein gold mine has recovered over 102.5 Moz since its establishment in 1952. Forming part of the Witwatersrand Basin, the mine has total gold mineral reserves of 2.5 Moz and also represents one of the country’s largest uranium reserves. Mineralization of gold occurs at depths of between 1,000m and 4,000m and is hosted in the CLR and VCR orebodies, with minor contributions to the resource base deriving from the Middelvlei Reef.
BARBERTON MINES – 1.66 MOZ
The Barberton Mines complex features four gold mines within the town of Barberton in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. Comprising the Fairview, New Consort, and Sheba mines, some of the oldest and highest-grade mines in the world, the Barberton area is characterized by high-grade gold bearing reefs with current mineral reserves proven at 1.4 Moz and an annual capacity of 80,000 oz per year. The Barberton Mines have produced approximately 11 Moz of gold since operations began in the late 19th century.
DOORNKOP GOLD MINE – 896 KOZ
With a gold ore reserve base of 896 thousand ounces (koz) and an annual production rate of 80,763oz, the Doornkop gold mine in South Africa’s Gauteng Province has an operational lifespan expected to last until 2036. The single-shaft operation is operated by Harmony Gold and mines to a depth of 2,000m. Located on the northwestern rim of the Witwatersrand Basin, the Doorkop gold mine is concentrated on the South Reef orebody.
MOAB KHOTSONG GOLD MINE – 808 KOZ
The Moab Khotsong gold mine, operated by Harmony Gold, is located in Gauteng, approximately 180km southwest of Johannesburg. The underground mine’s economic horizons include the Vaal Reef and C-Reef, forming part of the Witwatersrand Basin Supergroup. The mine boasts proven gold reserves of 808 koz and has a lifespan expected to last until 2028. In addition to gold, the Moab Khotsong mine represents one of the largest uranium reserves in the country, with an estimated 57.2 million tons of 0.058% grade uranium ore.
TARGET GOLD MINE – 452 KOZ
Under development since 1995, Target Gold Mine, located in the Free State province of South Africa, is the newest deep gold mine developed in the country. The mine is located in the Welkom gold fields at the southwestern end of the Witwatersrand Basin and has identifiable gold ore reserves of 452 koz.