The Mining of Gold and Uranium describes the domestic sector, highlights current conditions, including the uncertainty that exists in the regulatory environment, and discusses factors influencing the success of the industry. The report profiles 14 role players including dominant companies AngloGold Ashanti, Sibanye Gold and Harmony Gold Mining Company that produce gold from several large mines in the Witwatersrand Basin. South Africa’s only uranium mine owned by Shiva Uranium, a subsidiary of Oakbay Resources and Energy is also profiled, as is Rand Uranium (Pty) Ltd, a subsidiary of Sibanye Gold and small entity, White Rivers Exploration (Pty) Ltd which has entered into an exploration joint venture with Harmony Gold.
The Mining of Gold and Uranium
This report focuses on the South African gold and uranium mining sectors. During 2015 South Africa produced 167.5t of gold, which was 5.2% of the global total, and exported 118.1t worth R55.3bn. As the bulk of the country’s uranium is produced as a by-product of gold mining, the performance of the uranium mining sector is closely linked to that of the gold mining sector, and 447.3t of uranium was produced in 2015. According to the latest available data, almost 119,000 people were employed by gold mining companies during 2014.
Challenges and Opportunities
Challenges faced by the gold mining sector include a drop in commodity prices, rapidly rising input costs, policy and regulatory uncertainty, and operational challenges, such as ageing infrastructure, greater distances from the shaft to the face, and declining gold grades. The development of technology that will enable companies to mine safely and at greater depths than they currently do is viewed by stakeholders as imperative if the life of local gold mines is to be extended. Despite opposition to Government’s proposed nuclear build programme, which is estimated to cost more than R1-trillion, analysts believe it is likely to go ahead, spurring interest and investment in the uranium sector.