The high cost of mining old mines and the scarcity of reserves as seen the once mighty South African gold mining industry fall from grace in recent years.
South Africa’s remaining gold reserves are less than half existing estimates and the cost of bringing the dwindling resource into production may be far more than its value, a new report has found.
An article in the South African Journal of Science has highlighted the plight of the country’s gold mining industry, which is afflicted by high costs, environmental damage, falling output and illicit mining. A formerly illustrious industry is in its death throes, according to Chris Hartnady, the report’s author, who predicts that the output of the main Witwatersrand goldfields could fall below 100 tonnes a year within a decade.
South African output peaked in 1970, when the country mined 1,000 tonnes of gold and accounted for more than three quarters of world gold production, but production has declined rapidly since. Last year, South Africa produced 233 tonnes — about 10 per cent of world gold supply.
“It must be accepted that the Witwatersrand goldfields are now 95 per cent exhausted ... the glory days of South African mining appear to have arrived finally at an ignominious end,” Mr Hartnady wrote in his report.
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