SA's fields of gold

Contrary to popular belief, great opportunities still exist for gold miners in South Africa. In fact, the country might be sitting on the world's next great gold deposit. But we won't know until the drill rigs are unleashed, writes Leon Louw.

For more than a century, the origin of the Witwatersrand gold in South Africa has been the subject of vociferous arguments and debates. Generations of geological researchers have burnt the midnight oil to explain the phenomenon that continues feeding a ravenous global demand for yellow metal. Despite these years of research, and knowledge gained by more than 120 years of non-stop mining, the origin of South Africa's gold deposits remains uncertain. Today, the shallower portions of the Witwatersrand Basin, where most of the country's gold is found, is a warren of tunnels and stopes. Nonetheless, they continue producing the goods.

More gold to be mined
Many believe that the Witwatersrand Basin is reaching the end of its productive life, and that it won't be able to continue delivering the gold on which the foundations of South Africa's most prosperous city, Johannesburg, and the country's economy were built. The mainstream narrative is that gold mining in South Africa is a sunset industry. Most geologists with a good knowledge of the Witwatersrand Basin, nonetheless, say that half of the in situ gold has not been brought to surface yet. The problem is not so much the depth of the remaining reefs (which is true, especially on the West Rand) or the low grades of what is left (which is also true), but most importantly, the lack of drilling holes in areas previously not explored to the full.

Authors: Dr Hennie Theart | Partner | Corporate Consultant | Economic Geologist / John Paul Hunt | Senior Exploration Geologist / Mark Wanless | Partner | Principal Resource Geologist


SRK Africa