South Africa, once the undisputed global leader in gold production, the source of half the bullion ever mined, has now fallen behind Ghana in African gold output. It’s the latest sign that miners are stepping back from the difficulties of digging into the world’s deepest mines. Though South Africa is still believed to have massive gold reserves underground, second largest in the world, the “easy gold,” near the surface is long gone. With deeper mines, come higher costs. Regular miner strikes are another South African feature that has driven mining companies away.
The Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy in South Africa, Gwede Mantashe, is resigned to further shrinkage of the industry. “Gold is an old sector and naturally it will decline,” he told Bloomberg News. “New minerals that are discovered are becoming more important.”
Ghana cut corporate taxes in 2016 and 2017, and has shown flexibility on royalties, agreeing to a sliding scale in some cases, as opposed to a fixed rate.
Production in Ghana rose 12 percent last year. Newmont Goldcorp, the world’ leading producer, has its only African operations in Ghana. Major producers Gold Fields and AngloGold also operate in Ghana, but not South Africa.