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Golden Facts



Gold being poured


Sinking a main shaft


Face mask in gold



Gold has always fascinated man. It portrays beauty, power, mystery and romance. For ages it has been the only symbol of riches. It has driven men to pursue and prize it above all other things.

South Africa and gold is synonym. Almost half of all new gold produced every year comes from seven mining districts within the country. They stretch over a 500-kilometer arch from Mpumalanga in the east through Johannesburg to Klerksdorp in the west turning southwards to Welkom in the Free State. 

The gold mining industry is unique with its own peculiarities:

  • A mining day starts at 4 am. When about 30 000 workers (on a large mine) is transported underground.
  • An elevator carries 150 people and travels at 55 km./hour taking people up to 8 kilometers deep into the earth.
  • About 360 000 workers are employed on the South African mines originating from 50 tribes.
  • A medium sizes mine with 12000 workers need 4,5 tons of food a day to feed its staff.
  • Almost 60% of all gold mined is held by governments and central banks.
  • Gold purity is expressed as carat. A carat denotes a part of pure gold in 24 parts thus 18-carat gold consists of 18 parts pure gold and 6 parts metal.
  • The biggest industrial complex in Africa (Johannnesburg) has been born because of the discovery of gold.

Gold Language

  • Skip - open top elevator
  • Winze - tunnel driven downwards
  • Raise - tunnel driven upwards
  • Lash - to shovel
  • Fanagalo - simple language enabling various nationalities to communicate
  • Stope - a working place from where ore is extracted
  • Troy ounce - standard measure of weight equivalent to 31.103 grams (and not to a common ounce)
  • Dyke - an intrusion of rock interrupting the line of a gold reef

Places to visit in Johannesburg

Gold Reef City about 10 km from town. Book tours from any hotel or phone +27 21 496 1600.

Working Gold Mines can be visited. Arrangements through the Chamber of Mines at Tel. +27 21 498 7100.




This is great info - thanx all.

Posted by: jonny




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