Mining in South Africa

Since the late 19th century, South Africa’s economy has been based on the production and export of minerals, which, in turn, have contributed significantly to the country’s industrial development. One of the largest and most diverse mineral producers, South Africa was the largest producer and exporter of chromium and vanadium; the leading producer of gold, gem diamonds, ferrochromium, platinum (88% of world reserve base of platinum-group metals), manganese (80% of world reserve base of ore), and synthetic liquid fuels and petrochemicals derived from coal; the second-largest producer of antimony (8% of world output) and titanium (third-largest exporter); the third-largest exporter of coal; and a major producer of cobalt, copper, iron ore, lead, nickel, silver, uranium, zinc, zirconium, aggregate and sand, andalusite (aluminum silicate), asbestos, dimension stone, fluorspar, lime, limestone, phosphate rock, sulfur, and vermiculite. South Africa was self-sufficient in the vast majority of its mineral needs, the bulk of which were produced in the northern half of the country. South Africa was among the top five countries in terms of reserves, ranking first in reserves of andalusite, chromite, gold, manganese, PGMs, and vanadium. De Beers, the South African mining giant, accounted for 94% of the country’s diamond production and controlled 80% of the world’s uncut diamond trade.
In 2000, mineral commodities accounted for 47% of the $30.8 billion in total exports—gold, diamonds, platinum, and other metals and minerals were the top export commodities in 2002. The total value of sales of primary minerals was $14.2 billion in 2000 ($12.3 billion in 1999); $11 billion worth was exported ($9.5 billion in 1999). Processed mineral materials added another $2.98 billion to sales in 1999 and $2.43 billion to exports. The leading export earners in 2000 were PGMs ($3.9 billion), gold ($3.4 billion), coal, ferroalloys, aluminum, iron ore, vanadium, and copper. The year 2000 was the.