Despite claims of massive below ground reserves, researchers say that South Africa's gold industry is on deathwatch, with its goldfields nearly 95 percent exhausted and production rates set to fall permanently below 100 tons a year within the next decade.
South Africa is the fourth-ranked gold producer in the world.
Gold production from the Witwatersrand, the biggest known gold field in the world, peaked at around 1,000 tons in 1970 and has declined ever since.
Royalties, soaring charges for electricity, safety shutdowns, security risks, and currency exchange problems are among the challenges facing South African miners.
South African gold is dying — this is not new news,” says Leon Esterhuizen, specialist analyst at RBC Capital Markets, adding "that it may be dying faster than we currently believe is novel.”
Gold production in South Africa has witnessed a sharp decline in the first nine months of this year compared to September last year due to a series of strikes and mine accidents, Commodity Online reports.
According to an official data, gold production fell 9.3 percent in volume terms compared with September last year.
The main causes of the plunge in output in September were strikes and mine accidents, which led to a 20 percent fall in the production of platinum group metals compared with output in the previous month.
In the year to September, output of platinum, palladium, rhodium and iridium slumped nearly 40 percent.
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