In 1975, South Africa was responsible for producing 40% of the gold ever mined. By 2010, however, China affirmed its status as the worlds largest gold producer with production of 324 tonnes of gold, followed by Australia , and South Africa with 219.8 tonnes. Today, South Africa produces only 4.2% of the worlds gold.
Coal mining in South Africa began around the same time as gold mining and is one of the countrys most valuable commodities, accounting for a quarter of mineral mining revenue in 2020.
One of the Dark Continents top gold mining countries, Ghanagrabbed the top spot from South Africa after mining more than 142 metric tonnes of the precious metal in 2019. While traditional companies and artisanal miners contributing to Ghanas gold production, some of the largest include Kinross Gold , Newmont Goldcorp , AngloGold Ashanti , Gold Fields and Asanko Gold . The minerals mined in Ghana account for 37% of the countrys total exports, with gold comprising 90% of total mineral exports. Miningglobal estimates Ghanas gold reserves to be 1,000 metric tonnes.
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Declining gold ore grades in South Africa over the past eight decades have seen the country lose its African top spot to Ghana. In 2019, gold production fell to 118 metric tonnes from 137 metric tonnes in the previous year. The Witwatersrand Basin, an underground geological formation in South Africa, holds one of the largest gold placer deposits in the world. Top gold mines in the country include South Deep , Mponeng and Driefontein . South Africas oldest mine, Kromdraai, is a currently a huge tourist attraction. Despite diminishing gold reserves, South Africa is still estimated to possess 6,000 metric tonnes , according to 2018 MiningGlobal data.
The north east African country of Sudan comes third in this list with gold production of more than 76 metric tonnes in 2019. This was, however, a big drop from the 93 tonnes produced the previous year and the 107 tonnes in 2017. The Sudanese government, however, claims annual gold production in the range of 120 200 tonnes. For years one of Africas top gold producing countries, Sudanese gold is found in the Eriab region of the Nuba mountains, along the alluvial regions of the Nile River and quartz vein formations in Obaidiya, Blue Nile region and North Kurdufan. Africas third largest country by area, Sudans gold mines include Hassai gold mine and Block 14 open pit mine project.
The north west African country of Mali produced more than 71 metric tonnes of gold in 2019, a sizeable jump from the 61.2 tonnes in 2018 placing it fourth in our list of the continents top gold producers. Malis gold mining operations not only involve large mining companies, but also artisanal miners, who have also produced a sizeable chunk of gold and made a significant contribution to the countrys economy. Its gold mines include Morila , Sadiola , Loulo Gounkoto and Yatela . Mali is estimated to have 800 metric tonnes of gold reserves, according to Norwegian website Eiti .
Burkina Fasos 62 metric tonnes of gold produced in 2019 places it in fifth position in our list. Said to have one of the most dynamic mining sectors in West Africa, Burkina Fasos other major resources are copper, zinc, limestone, manganese and phosphate. The countrys gold mines include Kalsaka , Youga , Karma , Mana , Yaramoko , Taparko Boroum , Essakane , and Inata . Burkina Fasos gold reserves are estimated to be about 154 metric tonnes, according to Eiti .
The South Deep mine is located in the Far West Rand Goldfields and forms a part of the Witwatersrand Basin. The mine deposits lie beneath the Karoo Supergroup, Chuniesoort , Pretoria , Klipriviersberg and the Central Rand . The Central Rand group comprises detrital sedimentary rocks filled with quartz pebble conglomerates. The gold deposits are interrelated with sedimentary features such as unconformities and fluvial channels. The South Deep deposit has approximately 32.8Moz of gold reserves as of December 2018. The estimated uranium inventory at the mine is 37.5Mlb.
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The underground mine uses a combination of conventional drift and bench and low profile mining methods. The Upper Elsburg reef, the main target region of the mine, is mined using a fully mechanised drift and fill and long hole stoping. The Ventersdorp Contact Reef is mined using mechanised low profile mining. Ore from underground is taken to the surface by a conveyorsystem using the ventilation shaft headgear discharge bin. The semi autogenous grinding mill in the milling circuit is used for primary and secondary milling. Ore milling is done by the two overflow ball mills and the tailings are stored in the centralised tailings storage facility. Gold is recovered using four Knelson concentrators. Gold adsorption is conducted by an eight staged carousel type carbon in pulp circuit. The processing plant has a capacity of 220,000t a month.
The deep gold mine extends across an area of 4,268ha. It operates a gold mine accessed through two shaft systems, including the 2,995m deep twin shaft complex and the South Shaft complex. The mine was further explored and categorised into four areas, namely Old Mine, Current Mine, Phase 1 and Phase 2. Old Mine region is situated above the 90 Level and is accessed through the South Shaft complex. The Current Mine region lies between the 90 Level and 95 Level and is accessed through the twin shaft. Phase 1 will extend to 3,075m below the surface while Phase 2 will extend to a 3,500m depth.
Construction activities at South Deep include the installation of a tailings storage facility and deepening of the ventilation shaft. The works also include the additions to the metallurgical plant to increase its capacity. A planexion process control system was installed at the mine along with a two vertical silo facility for the surge capacity. Mine equipment includes trucks, ore passes, crushers, conveyors and shaft silos. An ice based underground cooling system was installed by 2015. Headgear was attached to the ventilation shaft and converted into a production shaft to increase the capacity.
Murray Roberts was awarded the contract to provide backfilling technologyfor the South Deep gold mine. Civcon won the contract for the construction of a brattice wall. Hatch South Africa was awarded the contract to design and engineer the new steel headgear for the mine.