Mining Industry in South Africa

Mining Industry in South Africa

In 2022, the South African mining industry exceeded its performance expectations on most fronts as global supply chains scrambled to get back to pre-COVID-19 levels, resulting in an increased demand for commodities. This resulted in record rand prices for the platinum group metals basket, iron ore, and coal.

We have the world’s largest reserves of platinum group metals and manganese, and some of the largest reserves of gold, diamonds, chromite ore and vanadium.

The mining industry in South Africa has seen a doubling of its industry revenue in the past five years and, in 2022, the total revenue of South Africa's mining industry was 747-billion rand.

Industrial-scale mining in South Africa started in the mid19th Century (1850), when the first copper mine was established. Later, in 1867, diamonds were discovered in the Northern Cape in a town called Hopetown, where the Eureka Diamond was found.

Gold was discovered in and has contributed significantly to South Africa’s GDP. The country’s mining industry contributing approximately 219.5-billion rand (12.8-billion US dollars) to South Africa’s GDP in 2021. In 2022, the total value of South Africa’s mining industry merger and acquisition transactions reached almost 9.2-billion dollars (USD).

Platinum Group Metals (PGMs), gold and chrome provide great value and huge opportunities.


Our ‘Captains of Industry’ are committed to the growth of our mining industry. South Africa is part of the global economy. While we are competing with the best in mining, we must take our game to a new level.

South Africa – a leader in the global mining industry

Diamond and gold discoveries played an important part in the growth of the early South African economy. The country’s stock exchange in Johannesburg was established in 1887, a decade after the first diamonds were discovered on the banks of the Orange River, and almost simultaneously with the gold rush on the world-famous Witwatersrand.

The gold mining industry continued to grow throughout much of the early 20th century, significantly contributing to the tripling of the economic value of the country. Revenue from gold exports provided sufficient capital to purchase much-needed machinery and petroleum products to support an expanding manufacturing base.

Mineral production, specifically diamond and gold production, are now well down from their peaks, though South Africa is still number 5 in gold and remains a cornucopia of mineral riches.

It is the world's largest producer of chrome, manganese, platinum, vanadium and vermiculite. It is also the second largest producer of ilmenite, palladium, rutile, and zirconium. It is also the world's third largest coal exporter. South Africa is further a huge producer of iron ore; in 2012, it overtook India to become the world's third-biggest iron ore mining supplier to China, the world's largest consumers of iron ore.

About 40% of our coal from coal production in South Africa is used for power production – 77% of South Africa's energy needs are provided by the coal industry.

Tracking and reporting on African mines and African mining projects is part of the mining intelligence service available.

Over Close to 170 companies rely on Africa Mining IQ to help them drive business within the African mining industry.


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The impact of electric vehicles

As the world gravitates towards electric vehicles , with a deadline of 2035 for all cars in the European Union to be electrically driven, demand for minerals used in the vehicle batteries and in the vehicle itself will increase. This means that mineral mining for and demand for graphite, nickel, lithium, cobalt, rare earth minerals, copper, manganese and zinc will rise. As South Africa is at the forefront of mining and quarrying, we envisage demand for these minerals from our country to rise too.

South Africa is positioned to meet some of this demand, with several mining projects in various phases of development. They are:

  • Copper (30)
  • Lithium (4)
  • Manganese (17)
  • Nickel (5)
  • Rare Earth Minerals (8)
  • Zinc (7)

There are currently no projects for graphite mining, cobalt mining, and copper mining, but by subscribing to Africa Mining IQ, you will be notified when any new projects for these minerals and mining opportunities begin.

It is envisaged that, as demand for these vehicles increases, so will demand for the above-mentioned minerals, which may result in increased mining projects in the country. Contact AMIQ for all mining resources information.

Industry challenges

The South African mining industry faces numerous challenges, despite its significant contribution to the country’s economy. Some of these challenges include:

  • Labour disputes which led to a number of losses for mining companies and resulted in disruptions to the industry.
  • Health & safety concerns – South Africa has one of the highest rates of mining fatalities in the world. This is attributable to accidents, as well as tuberculosis and silicosis affecting the health of miners.
  • Environmental issues – the country has significant coal deposits, a main source of greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, some of the mining operations have the potential to impact wildlife and local ecosystems.
  • Socio-economic impact on communities – mining operations can lead to the displacement of local communities and impact on their livelihood.

Overcoming these challenges will put South Africa at the forefront of sustainable mining on the continent.

Major Mining Sectors in South Africa

"Although gold, diamonds, platinum and coal are the most well-known among the minerals and metals mined, South Africa also hosts chrome, vanadium, titanium and a number of other lesser minerals."

(Minerals Council South Africa)


The discovery of gold in the late 19th century spawned the development of the city of Johannesburg, Egoli, or the City of Gold.

In the 20th century, the large gold mines on the West Wits line were established, and towns like Carletonville and Klerksdorp became important and busy centers. For many years, South Africa was the world’s primary gold producer.

The mining sector’s share of the South African economy is estimated to have been 6.8%, marginally down from the 7% of overall gross domestic product (GDP) recorded in 2016. This despite the fact that growth resumed from the dismal decline (-4.3%) in 2016 to an expansion of about 4.6% in 2017, contributing R312 billion to GDP.

Among the nation's gold mines are two of the deepest mines in the world. The East Rand Mine, in Boksburg, extends to a depth of 3,585 metres (11,762 ft). An extension to the TauTona mine in Carltonville brings the total depth to over 3,900 metres (12,800 ft) – breaking the previous record by 39 metres (127 feet).


Read Key Gold Mining Industry Facts & Figures*


Coal mining in South Africa can be traced to the start of the gold mining process in the late 19th century.

Demand began to grow exponentially as the country entered a period of industrialisation during and following World War 2. This included a major programme of building power stations, particularly on the coal fields of Emalahleni (previously Witbank) and Delmas, as well as in Secunda.

South African coal has a comparatively medium ash content, which can be reduced by washing before sale. Higher grades of final product are delivered to export markets with the lower grade product burned by Eskom’s specially designed power station boiler hearths.

Excluding Sasol, the coal sector employs in the region of 82,248 people, which is the third largest group in the mining sector after gold and platinum group metals. Their annual earnings are in the region of R22 billion.

At current rates of production, South Africa has reserves sufficient to satisfy its needs for more than a century.

Read Key Gold Mining Industry Facts & Figures*



Platinum mining and the discovery of the first platinum nuggets in South Africa dates back to 1924.

Geologist Hans Merensky discovered two deposits, each around 100 km in length, which became known as the Bushveld Igneous Complex. This igneous body hosts more than half the world’s PGMs and is ideal for PGM mining. It also hosts other associated minerals such as chromium, vanadium and refractory minerals. The Merensky Reef is found between the Critical and the Main Zone, and is rich in platinum group elements (PGEs): platinum, palladium, rhodium, iridium, osmium and ruthenium.

The mines on this geological structure have produced more than 75% of the world’s output for many years

Since World War 2, platinum mine production has grown continuously in response to new applications being developed for the metal. A significant new use of platinum was in the petroleum industry where platinum catalysts were introduced to increase the octane rating of petroleum and to manufacture important primary feedstocks for the growing plastics industry. This was followed in the 1960s by growing demand for platinum jewellery – given its purity, colour, prestige and value.

Read Key Platinum Mining Facts & Figures*


Natural diamonds were formed some 3.3 billion years ago in conditions of intense heat and pressure 150 km below the earth’s surface.

While diamond mining has been taking in place in South Africa for almost a century and a half, the country’s diamond sector is far from reaching the end of its life. Developments at the country’s three largest mines are designed to expand their outputs and to extend their lives to anywhere between a quarter and a half a century.

The Venetia mine in Limpopo, owned by De Beers is South Africa’s largest diamond producer, recovering some 8Mct a year. The Finsch mine, part of the Petra Diamonds group, is South Africa’s second largest producer and produces an annual 2.1Mct. Near Pretoria and also part of the Petra group, the Cullinan mine is being restructured and expanded to mine at ever-increasing depths with a life expectancy in excess of 50 years.

Diamonds are the ultimate luxury for people around the globe. They are available in quantities that most other gems fail to come close to . The operating costs, labour and skills that go into producing even the smallest polished gem mean that prices at the jewellers’ counter reflect the gem’s luxury status.

Read Key Diamond Mining Facts & Figures*

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The AMIQ Advantage

Comprehensive mining intelligence from Africa Mining IQ incorporates mining, business leads and mining investment opportunities in South Africa and Africa. Available as a single, easy-to-use, subscription-based platform, we are the largest mining information service for mining intelligence, making it easy to grow your sales to mining projects and mines.

African mining project intelligence from Africa Mining IQ is a wealth of mining information designed to keep AMIQ subscribers ahead of their competitors. With over 490 mining projects in South Africa alone, the country is richly endowed with a diverse range of key mineral reserves. Mining intelligence from AMIQ, available through a subscription to the online mining portal, provides subscribers with access to pertinent project information on over 2,000 mining projects and mines throughout Africa.

With over 18 years’ experience in researching and reporting on mining in Africa, our team of project co-ordinators at Africa Mining IQ research and identify any new or operational mines as well as provide the latest intel on existing projects that are in various stages of mine development.

All mining intelligence collated by Africa Mining IQ is subject to a stringent quality control process. Only once information is evaluated and approved, does Africa Mining IQ make it available to subscribers.

Our mining data software provides subscribers with:

  • Detailed project intelligence, including scope, project value, start and completion dates, mining type, plant type and commodity type.

  • Comprehensive project commentary that keeps track of progress with updates and important notifications enabling you to have a constructive sales approach.

  • Key contacts. We supply contacts for mine owners and list project engineers and consultants on each project.

  • A user friendly , intelligent dashboard, that allows you to input your own reminders and projects you qualified for.

  • Important networking opportunities, which companies has used to build important strategic partnerships that have helped them secure big contracts.

Project Contact Information

Africa Mining IQ is the ONLY African mining intelligence portal that guarantees a key contact per mine owner / project engineer or project supplier. All African mining projects are carefully researched and verified by a team of researchers.


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In depth analysis reports delve into African mining project statistics such as number of projects per region per phase, and have been created for you to download and use for tendering and project tracking purposes.


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Mining in South Africa: The Opportunities

At the 2023 Investing in African Mining Indaba, South Africa’s president, the honourable Cyril Ramaphosa, said that the mining industry needs to manage the risks and potential benefits of rapid technological change, shifting market demand, climate change and geopolitical uncertainty.

He added that, in 2021, South African mining registered 11.8% growth, the highest across all industries, even in the face of the post-COVID-19 pandemic. He also said that the mining sector had recovered production to almost pre-COVID levels. “This was the result of significant collaboration between the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, and the Minerals Council South Africa, including efforts to keep the sector operational during the hard lockdowns in the country in the early stages of the pandemic,” Ramaphosa said.


Challenges in SA’s mining industry

Conventional mining operations in South Africa are carried out in deep level mining (deep mining and other types of underground mining), open pit mining/open cast mining, and other different types of mining, but the industry still faces the following challenges.

  • Mineral prices have declined or stagnated in Rand terms

  • Viability challenges facing gold, platinum and coal

  • Instability in the labour market

  • Policy and regulatory uncertainty

  • Infrastructure constraints (electricity shortages since 2007)

  • Declining productivity coupled with escalating costs


South Africa holds some of the best mineral resources in the world

Tracking and reporting on South African mines and mining projects is part of the mining intelligence service available.


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