Five Deepest Operational Gold Mines in South Africa

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While countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia and Zimbabwe are some of the major mining players in Africa, South Africa remains home to some of the largest and deepest gold mines globally. Accounting for approximately 4.2% of global gold production, there are 86 gold mines in the country, of which 41 are underground.

From the start of mining operations in the late 19th century, South Africa experienced an economic and development boom, owing largely to the revenue generated from the country’s deepest gold mines. Now, in 2022, these mines continue to drive socioeconomic growth, further consolidating the country’s position as a global gold hub.

Mponeng Mine: 4km

Representing the deepest mine in the world, the Mponeng Gold Mine is situated in Carletonville on the northwestern area of the Witwatersrand Basin. Owned and operated by Harmony Gold — which purchased the mine from AngloGold Ashanti in 2020 — the mine was commissioned in 1987, with ore grades of over 8 grams per ton and 45.81 million ounces of estimated reserves. The mine measures 4 km in depth, with descent from the surface to the bottom taking over an hour.

Savuka Mine: 3.7km

Holding approximately 5.26 billion tons of reserves, AngolGold Ashanti’s Savuka Gold Mine is South Africa’s second deepest gold mine in operation. Located in Randfontein, the active underground mine measures 3.7km in depth. Despite annual production reaching 49,000 ounces in 2011, production has been gradually falling due to exhaustive ore reserves. Accordingly, minimal operations are being carried out with the mine reaching the end of its productive life.

Driefontein Gold Mine: 3.42km

At 3.42km in depth, South Africa’s Driefontein Gold Mine, located within the West Wits Line Goldfield of the Witwatersrand Basin and owned by Sibanye-Stillwater, is the country’s third deepest gold mine in operation with production reaching 250,000 ounces in 2020. The mine employs over 10,000 people and is expected to be in operation until 2030. Comprising six producing shaft systems and extracting ore from three reefs, the mine has been operating since 1952 and additionally holds one of the country’s largest deposits of uranium reserves.

Kusasalethu Mine: 3.38km

Formerly known as Elandsrand, the 3.38km deep Kusasalethu Gold Mine is Harmony Gold’s deepest mine. Located 75km west of one of South Africa’s major cities, Johannesburg, the mine forms part of the West Wits Line. Current production measures 445,000 ounces with reserves estimated at 7.54 million ounces. Currently, Harmony Gold— as owner and operator— is working on deepening the mine even further in a bid to expand its operational lifespan by another 18 years.

Kloof Mine: 3.34km

Also located in South Africa’s prolific Witwatersrand Basin, the Kloof Gold Mine— now known as the KDC mine — is wholly owned by Gold Fields, with operating depths measured between 1,000 and 3,500 meters. The mine comprises three sections, namely, Kloof, Libanon and Leeudoorn, consolidated under one operating division as of 2002. With 2.6 million tons of estimated reserves, Gold Fields has been conducting a feasibility study for the development of the Kloof Extension Area, targeting an additional two million tons and expanding the operational lifespan of the mine.

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Charné Hollands

Charné Hollands

Charné Hollands is the Deputy Editor at Energy Capital & Power. She holds a Higher Certificate in Professional Photography and Masters in Media Studies from the University of Cape Town. Charné writes content for ECP's website and events as well as co-authored African Energy Chamber: Road to Recovery.

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