Mining in South Africa

Mining in South Africa

Mining in South Africa began with chance discovery of a diamond on the banks of the Orange River in 1867. By the 1880s, the mines around Kimberley produced around 95% of the world diamonds.

In 1886, on the farm of Langlaagte, the rapidly growing diamond industry was eclipsed by the discovery of gold. This was the world’s highest value reef, accounting for about 40% of its total gold reserves.

The country’s first appreciable tonnages of coal were also found in the Witwatersrand Basin around this time.

Since its peak in 1980, when it contributed 21% of the country’s GDP, mining in South Africa has been overtaken by finance, government, trade and transport industries, but continues to be a critical economic activity as the country’s sixth largest economic sector.

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Africa Mining IQ tracks 549 mining projects in South Africa.

South Africa: An Investment Destination

South Africa is a world leader in mining. Mining has helped shape South Africa more than any other industry. The country is famous for its abundance of mineral resources, accounting for a significant proportion of world production and reserves.

The industry is continually adapting to changing local and international world conditions. South African mining companies established the world's first workmen's compensation fund. They also put up most of the money to establish the South African Institute for Medical Research. Mining in short inspired the development not only of technical sciences but also of human sciences.

Although the mining sector no longer dominates the South African economy as it once did, mining accounts for a major proportion of the country's earnings of foreign exchange. The economies of four of the nine provinces and of several large towns are dominated by mining. Mining remains a cornerstone of the South African economy, making a significant contribution to economic activity, job creation and foreign exchange earnings.


  • Our total reserves have an estimated worth of R20.3 trillion
  • We have the world’s fifth-largest mining sector in terms of GDP value
  • Mining accounts for one-third of the market capitalisation of the JSE
  • Coal accounts for nine tenths of South Africa's electricity


Mining continues to act as a magnet for foreign investment in South Africa.

Key Mining Facts:

  • In 2018 the mining sector contributed R351 billion to the South African gross domestic product (GDP)
  • A total of 456 438 people were employed in the mining sector in 2018
  • The mining sector has, for many years, attracted valuable foreign direct investment to South Africa

Mining Companies in South Africa

Given its history and mineral wealth and as the gateway to Africa’s mining industry, it is no surprise that South Africa’s mining companies are key players in the global industry.

As major global industry, mining companies in South Africa boast a high level of technical and production expertise, as well as wide-ranging research and development activities. We have world-class primary processing facilities, covering carbon steel, stainless steel and aluminium in addition to platinum and gold beneficiation.

Two of the world’s largest mining companies have their origins in South Africa: BHP Billiton (a merger between South Africa’s Billiton and the Australian BHP Group) and Anglo American Plc. With listings on the London and South African Stock Exchange. It owns subsidiaries like: Anglo Platinum, Anglo Coal, Impala Platinum and Kumba Iron Ore.


Find out more about mining companies in South Africa and how a subscription to Africa Mining IQ gets you the mining intelligence you need when targeting these companies.

Key Mining Sectors in South Africa

South Africa has a mature, well developed mining sector, having been the focus of sustained, large-scale mining capitalisation for over 100 years.

According to the US Geological Survey, South Africa has the world’s largest reserves of manganese and platinum group metals (PGMs), and among the largest reserves of gold, diamonds, chromite ore and vanadium.

Our platinum group metals reserves are expected to last another 335 years, and our coal reserves for 256 years. South Africa is the world’s largest producer of chrome (14 000 Mt), platinum group metals (193 t), manganese (4.7 million Mt) and vermiculite (210 000 t). South Africa is the world’s second largest producer of ilmenite (1.17 Mt), rutile (130 000 t) and zirconium (370 000 t).

SA’s biggest mining earners as recorded in June 2019 (Statistics SA):

  • Coal: R 11 636 100 000 (26.02%)
  • PGMs: R 11 481 900 000 (25.67%)
  • Iron ore: R 6 172 800 000 (13.80%)
  • Gold: R 5 871 400 000 (13.13%)
  • Manganese ore: R 4 771 700 000 (10.67%)
  • Chromium: R 1 954 900 000 (4.37%)
  • Other metallic minerals: R 1 910 400 000 (4.27%)
  • Nickel: R 521 000 000 (1.16%)
  • Copper: R 401 100 000 (0.90%)


Coal Mining in South Africa

The sixth biggest coal-exporter, producing around 260 tonnes per annum, the coal mining industry in South Africa has reserves for over 200 years.

Major coalfields are found in the Highveld and Lowveld regions of South Africa, with Witbank and Ermelo in the Mpumalanga province being the major mining hubs. Increasing emphasis is being placed on coal fields in the Limpopo province such as Waterberg.

Coal is South Africa's "Black Gold"

Coal-driven power stations are the largest component of South Africa’s energy mix.

Coal mining in South Africa plays a significant role in the economy and is responsible for nearly three quarters of Eskom’s fuel supply. It’s responsible for supplying the coal-to-liquids (CTL) industry which produces around 35% of the country’s liquid fuel.

Africa Mining IQ tracks and monitors 134 coal projects in South Africa across all phases of development:

  • Grassroots 1
  • Pre-Feasibility 5
  • Feasibility 7
  • Bankable 2
  • Execution 4
  • Operational 60
  • Dormant L/R 37
  • Closed 6
  • Completed 6
  • Consolidated 2
  • Dormant 4


Gold Mining in South Africa

After 120 years of mining, operations in this area have reached depths of 4 000 m, with the natural rock temperatures reach about 50° C.

About 40% of the world’s total gold reserves are found in the Witwatersrand area. The Witwatersrand Basin remains the world’s largest gold resource and has produced more than two billion ounces of gold to date.

South Africa produced more than two billion ounces of gold to date.

Mponeng Gold Mine is the world’s deepest gold mine, with a depth of over 4 km.

South Africa has estimated gold reserves of 6 000 tons and accounts for about 10% of global gold production. The Witwatersrand reef is now mined at over 4 km below the surface. TauTona Mine and Mponeng Gold Mine are the deepest mines in the world.

Africa Mining IQ tracks and monitors 89 gold projects in South Africa across all phases of development:

  • Grassroots 18
  • Pre-Feasibility 4
  • Feasibility 3
  • Bankable 6
  • Execution 3
  • Operational 29
  • Dormant L/R 12
  • Closed 3
  • Completed 2
  • Consolidated 9


Diamond Mining in South Africa

South Africa’s first diamond, weighing 21.25 carats, was discovered in 1867 near Hopetown, in the Karoo. Two years later, diamonds were found in lucrative concentrations around Kimberly, in the kimberlite diamond matrixes.

These same matrixes were also found in Cullinan and Venetia. The Cullinan Diamond is the world’s largest gem-quality rough diamond. It weighed 3 106 carats.

Over 60% of South Africa’s diamonds come from the Venetia Mine in Limpopo.

The Venetia Mine is South Africa’s largest producer of diamonds.

South Africa is the world’s fourth largest producer of diamonds, with production around 8.15 Mct of diamonds annually – 7.79 Mct of which continue to be derived from kimberlite. Smaller marine mining operations yield approximately 27 302 ct per year.

After more than 150 years of intensive mining, South Africa’s diamond industry remains among the top 5 largest producers in the world. Our diamonds are typically high whites, pinks and blues.

Africa Mining IQ tracks and monitors 48 diamond projects in South Africa across all phases of development:

  • Pre-Feasibility 1
  • Execution 1
  • Operational 13
  • Dormant L/R 25
  • Completed 3
  • Bankable 1
  • Closed 2


PGM Mining in South Africa

The discovery of the first platinum nuggets in South Africa dates back to 1924. The geologist Hans Merensky’s follow-up work resulted in the discovery of two deposits, each around 100km in length, which became known as the Bushveld Igneous Complex.

The north western part of South Africa is famous for platinum and diamond mining. This area accounts for more than 90% of South Africa's platinum production. Five of the largest platinum-producing mines are located in the Rustenburg area.

PGM is concentrated in the 2 billion-year old Bushveld Igneous Complex

The Bushveld Igneous Complex hosts over half the world’s platinum group minerals.

The first platinum nuggets were discovered in South Africa in 1924 and today accounts for about 80% of the world’s total supplies. The platinum mining industry in South Africa has increased production from 163 tons in 2010 to almost 200 tons in 2017, with total sales of over R 9 billion.

Africa Mining IQ tracks and monitors 96 PGM projects in South Africa across all phases of development:

  • Grassroots 1
  • Pre-Feasibility 4
  • Feasibility 8
  • Bankable 1
  • Execution 9
  • Operational 29
  • Dormant 1
  • Dormant L/R 25
  • Completed 6
  • Consolidated 10
  • Closed 1


Iron Ore Mining in South Africa

Iron ore is the key ingredient of steel. With steel being almost 95% of the metal used every year around the world, iron is the most frequently used metal in the world. Around two billion metric tonnes of raw iron ore is produced every year. The international consumption of iron ore is growing by around 10% every year, and the main consumers are Japan, China, Korea, the European Union and the United States.

The highest quality and most important iron ores for steelmaking are hematite (Fe2O3) and magnetite (Fe3O4).

Kumba Iron Ore is a supplier of high-quality iron ore to the global steel industry.

With estimated reserves of 2.43 billion tonnes of iron ore, Sishen Mine is one of the largest iron ore reserves in South Africa.

Hematite accounts for approximately 95% of South Africa’s iron ore production. Kumba Iron Ore produces high quality lump (64.0% Fe) and high grade sinter fines (63.5% Fe).

Kumba Iron Ore is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and operates three mines: Sishen and Kolomela mines situated in the Northern Cape and Thabazimbi mine in the Limpopo province. More than 80% of South Africa’s iron ore mined in these areas.

Africa Mining IQ tracks and monitors 23 iron ore projects in South Africa across all phases of development:

  • Pre-Feasibility 1
  • Bankable 1
  • Operational 6
  • Dormant L/R 13
  • Consolidated 1
  • Execution 1


The future of Africa, like its past, is deeply rooted in mining; and Africa is certainly open for business.

New mining projects in South Africa

Africa Mining IQ lists 552 mining projects in South Africa on our portal.

These include:

  • 134 coal projects
  • 96 PGM projects
  • 82 industrial projects
  • 89 gold projects
  • 23 iron ore projects
  • 19 manganese projects
  • 7 nickel projects
  • 7 uranium projects
  • 11 chrome projects
  • 7 copper projects
  • 46 diamonds projects
  • 1 emerald project
  • 3 fluorspar projects
  • 3 illmenite projects
  • 1 lead project
  • 1 lithium project
  • 1 magnesium project
  • 3 phosphate projects
  • 5 rare earth mineral projects
  • 1 rutile project
  • 1 silica project
  • 2 tin projects
  • 6 vanadium projects
  • 2 zinc projects
  • 1 zircon project

South Africa’s mining

With each project tracked, analysed and monitored over its development, from grassroots and pre-feasibility to fully operational, Africa Mining IQ is the ultimate intelligence resource for mining in South Africa.

The portal not only contains detailed information on close to 2,000 projects and mines but also provides researched and verified monthly reports on mineral, regional and project phase growth that spans the entire continent.

Our researchers are on-top on South Africa’s mining activities and developments. By providing the most in-depth, up-to-the-minute intelligence on South Africa’s mining projects, including key contact details for Mine Owners and Project Engineers/EPCs, companies can successfully target new projects early in their specification.

  • Tracking, reporting, insight & analysis of over 500 SA mining projects
  • Locate projects by scope, phase, location or mineral
  • SMS & email alerts of updates to tracked projects
  • African mining projects listed
  • Mine owners and engineers listed
  • Key contact info for mine owners, engineers & suppliers for each project – guaranteed

Real mining intelligence

Grow your business in South Africa’s mining industry with Africa Mining IQ.

If you’re looking for new opportunities in the South Africa mining industry, AMIQ provides the intelligence you need to accurately target business opportunities in South Africa. We help companies grow their business by giving them the most in-depth, up-to-the-minute intelligence on South Africa’s mining projects, including key contact details for Mine Owners and Project Engineers/EPCs, companies can successfully target new projects early in their specification.

Drilling companies, surveyors, engineers, testing labs, processing plants, equipment, caterers and soft service suppliers, logistics companies, and more, use Africa Mining IQ to find relevant business opportunities in South Africa’s mining industry.

Our portal also contains key contact information and project update and analysis for leading mining companies in Gauteng, including: Anglo American & AngloGold Ashanti, African Rainbow Minerals, BHP Billiton Limited, Gold Fields, Harmony Gold, Impala Platinum, Rio Tinto and Xstrata PLC.


Get the latest info on mining in South Africa with a tailored subscription to Africa Mining IQ.

Africa Mining IQ is your essential resource for mines in South Africa

  • Up-to-date project information: real-time reporting, monitoring, charting and statistical analysis on over 2 000 African mining projects
  • Essential contact details: the Africa Mining IQ portal has the key contact details (telephone and email) of mining companies, mine owners, project suppliers and project management personnel
  • Project by location or mineral targeting: with an intuitive search facility Africa Mining IQ allows you to target business according to minerals mined or location of African mining projects
  • Tracking, reporting, insight & analysis of over 500 South African mining projects
  • Email alerts of updates to tracked projects


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