Mining in the Rainbow Nation

By: howie

Mention the country South Africa to anyone and there's a big chance he'll think about Nelson Mandela and what his anti-apartheid movement. This country, also known as 'Rainbow Nation' (a term invented by Bishop Desmond Tutu to portray post-apartheid South Africa), is a society composed of many ethnicities and encompasses a wide range of cultures, religions, and even languages.

Not many people are aware, however, that historically, South Africa's main driving force when it comes to its development is the industry of mining. It's majorly responsible for making the country the most advanced and richest economy in the entire African continent.

Its mining history, just like with other countries, is also steeped in various issues and controversies. These notwithstanding, mining has remained a major contributor to South Africa's economy. Here are some of the major minerals and resources mined in this Rainbow Nation:

Gold - Witwatersrand is the place where gold was first discovered in this country, which eventually triggered what has come to be known as the 'Witwatersrand Gold Rush' in 1886. Today, almost a staggering 50% of the world's gold reserves are found in this country.

Coal - The first type of fossil fuel exploited by man for energy on a large scale, coal is used for much of South Africa's power production. The country is the world's third largest exporter of coal.

Diamonds - Remember the movie 'Blood Diamonds' starring Leonardo di Caprio among others? The film is about diamonds mined in African war zones and subsequently sold to finance conflicts. Although it's a fictional story, the ending, wherein a conference is held about blood diamonds (also called 'conflict diamonds'), actually refers to a real meeting that took place in Kimberley. South Africa has been a global leader in diamond production after the Kimberly diamond strike that took place in 1868.

Chromium - This type of metal is used for a variety of industrial applications like stainless steel. Chromium is one of the leading products of the mining industry in this country. This metal is extracted at 10 sites around South Africa.

Platinum - This precious silvery-white metallic element, because of its high malleability is used in making jewelry items. South Africa prides itself of producing this metal more than any other nation. In fact, in 2005, almost 80% of the earth's platinum was produced in this country, which amounted to 163,000 kilograms produced in that year. This translated to almost $4 billion USD in export revenues.

The mining industry in South Africa provides jobs to almost half a million workers as of 2007. This major industry accounts for 18% of the country's GDP or Gross Domestic Product. Despite strikes and work stoppages, especially from gold mine workers, mining continues to be a thriving industry in this part of the world.

If you like to know more about the latest news and information on mining in South Africa and other parts of the world, including the latest trends, you can log on to It's where you'll find anything that has to do with the ever-dynamic mining industry.

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Howard Smith is a corporate consultant, focusing on fund administration, debt collection, and wealth management. He was also involved in the mining business for quite some time in the past. He recommends you log on to to get info about mining in South Africa.

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