88% of South Africa’s metals are exported.
South Africa is the world’s largest diamond producing country, where the discovery of diamond and gold mines in the later part of the 19th century brought a mineral revolution.
The Cullinan diamond is the largest gem-quality diamond ever found, weighing roughly 3106.75 carat (1.37 lb).
Kimberley’s Big Hole in South Africa is the largest hole excavated by hand. This unusually large excavation is actually an underground diamond mine. The Kimberley Mine refers to the first ever discovery of diamond reserves in the country. From mid-July 1871 to 1914, 50,000 miners dug the Big Hole in Kimberley with picks and shovels, yielding 2,722 kilograms of diamonds. The hole has a surface of 17-hectares (42 acres) and is 463-meters wide. It was excavated to a depth of 240-meters.
Eight of the ten deepest mines in the world reside in a particular region of South Africa, while the remaining two – Kidd Creek and Creighton – are in Ontario, Canada.
AngloGold Ashanti’s Mponeng gold mine, located south-west of Johannesburg in South Africa, is currently the deepest mine in the world. The operating depth at Mponeng mine ranged from between 2.4km to more than 3.9km below the surface by the end of 2012. Ongoing expansions have resulted in deeper digging at Mponeng, pushing the record to beyond the 4km mark.
TauTona, AngloGold Ashanti’s gold mine in the West Wits region of South Africa, ranks as the second deepest mine in the world. Although mining at TauTona currently takes place at depths ranging from between 1.85km to 3.45km, its mining depth was extended to 3.9km underground with the addition of a secondary shaft in 2008. TauTona mining operations began in 1962 with the construction of 800km of tunnels. The mine is currently operated with three shafts.