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7 Top Reasons Why Witwatersrand, South Africa is known For Gold Mining

Witwatersrand, known as the Rand, is a ridge of gold-bearing rock mostly in Gauteng province, near Johannesburg, in South Africa, which forms the most significant goldfield globally.

It lies 56-kilometer-long (35 mi), north-facing scarp in South Africa, with depths of 3600m, stretching 350 km long by 200 km wide and a thickness exceeding10,000m. 

It has a record of over two billion ounces of gold mined from its goldfields since its discovery in the late 19th century.

There are top reasons why Witwatersrand, South Africa, is known for gold mining. Read more to discover as we state them below; 

1. The underground geological formation contains large gold mines.

Witwatersrand is known for gold mining because the basin holds a reasonable amount of underground geological formation, comprising most of the gold deposits in South Africa.

The gold produced in the Witwatersrand basin represents about 22% of gold accounted for above the surface. 

Witwatersrand keeps producing gold in South Africa, making it the best location for gold mining in Africa.

Witwatersrand, otherwise called Witwatersrand Basin, is one of the world’s largest gold placer deposits on the Kaapvaal Craton (comprising the world’s most intensely and oldest studied Archean rocks).

2. It holds the world’s largest known gold reserves

Witwatersrand is known for housing large gold reserves worldwide. It holds about two to three billion ounces of gold, 1.5 billion ounces on average.

Also, the highest known gold reserve on earth exists there, which exceeds about 40,000 metric tons according to other estimations.

The figure above represents 22% of the total global gold mined on the earth’s surface.

Again, about 40 to 50% of gold mined in South Africa comes from Witwatersrand, and to date, it is still waxing big in gold mining.

3. Withwatersand forms part of the “Golden Arc.” rich in gold deposits 

Witwatersrand creates wealth through gold in South Africa. Its reef forms part of the “golden arc,” a prehistoric inland lake endowed with rich deposits of alluvial gold.

Sharing a link with this gold carrier contributes to making the massive goldfield a great mining zone for gold.

Golden arc holds about a hundred kilometers (60 miles) long and 3.6 kilometers (12,000 feet) deep in some places. 

It provides close to 40% of gold globally connected to the Witwatersrand gold deposit, the largest.

Studies have shown that the “Golden Arc” stretches from Johannesburg to Welkom, a famous inland lake.

 Again, the silt and gold deposits from the alluvial gold in the area make up the rich gold deposits that Witwatersrand, South Africa, is famous for.

4. Gold ores are extracted through the shafts or underground basins.

The underground basin of Witwatersrand produces most of South Africa’s gold and much of the total world output.

The basins stretch across the surface in the Witwatersrand gold-rich area, posing the deepest hard rock gold mine for easy extraction of ores. 

The Witwatersrand basin extends 250 miles from Johannesburg to Welkom, containing gold-bearing reefs along the northern and western margins.

5. The constant Gold Rush in Witwatersrand 

Witwatersrand is regarded as the gold mining area due to the continuous outcrop of gold deposits there in 1886, making the site an ideal gold mine.

During the discovery of the Witwatersrand Gold Rush in South Africa, the amount of gold found there summed up to 2 billion ounces, which accounts for 40 – 50% of world gold ever mined at the site.

The gold rush became the central part of the mineral revolution in South Africa, increasing the country’s wealth as the most prominent global gold rush ever.

The gold miners who came from the modern-day “El Dorado” and other places worldwide to seek fortune on Pilgrim’s Rest and Barberton’s alluvial mines, South Africa, eventually uncovered the massive wealth Witwatersrand.

6. Witwatersrand receives deposits from the greenstone belts

Witwatersrand is known for gold mining because its basin area receives gold deposits from the Archean river deltas.

After the gold-rich surrounding washes the Witwatersrand basin, it receives gold deposits from the greenstone belts to the north and west.

7. The blanket of debris at Witwatersrand preserves gold for further years

The area is known for gold mining because there are vast amounts of debris thrown by humans, covering and preserving the deposits.

The blanket of debris is thick enough to preserve gold at Witwatersrand from a further 2 billion years of erosion.

For this reason, gold deposits still exist there in large quantities and are rarely found elsewhere around the world.

Discory of Witwatersrand Gold Mine

A Welsh mineralogist, John Henry Davis, was the first person that discovered gold in Witwatersrand in 1852 in Pardekraal farm, Krugersdorp.

In June 1884, Jan Gerrit Bantjes found the gold in the Vogelstruisfontein after his discoveries.

Those known as the Struben uncovered the Confidence Reef on the farm in September 1884.

Then in February 1886, George Harrison discovered the same gold before the Witwatersrand gold rush emerged with full force.

Gold exists in Witwatersrand because of the blanket of debris that preserved it from 2 billion years of erosion.

Owning to the preservation of gold by the blanket debris, it was possible to find gold in Witwatersrand and rare elsewhere. 

The gold discovered in the area makes it the biggest city in South Africa, just ten years of discovery.

The mines in the Witwatersrand basin are among the deepest in the world, tunneling miles below the surface.

Witwatersrand dominating the world gold peaking

Witwatersrand happens to be the richest gold mine dominating the world gold peaking at the 1000 t Au production for many decades.

Although there has been a step back from the production of gold in Witwatersrand since 1970, few people noticed it.

Due to the reduction of gold, some people think that Witwatersrand gold mining will end in mid-2022, but it is a preserved natural resource getting more deposits from year to year. 

Why does the Witwatersrand basin have so much gold?

The Witwatersrand basin has much gold due to its geological formation, containing large gold deposits.

Why is there so much gold in South Africa?

Based on the hydrothermal model, there is so much gold in South Africa because gold-rich hot fluids emanate from deep within the earth’s crust.

The gold-rich hot fluids travel along faults and fractures, adding gold to the basin long after the sediments consolidated into rock.

Which city in South Africa is known to have a lot of gold mines?

The city in South Africa has a lot of gold mines in Johannesburg; it sits on the edge of the world’s largest known gold deposit.

How much gold did miners discover during the Witwatersrand gold Rush?

In the late 19th century, the discovery uncovered over 2 billion ounces of gold.

About 40 to 50 percent of the entire world gold ever mined has come from Witwatersrand.

 Final Words

The Witwatersrand basin still produces most of South Africa’s gold and total world output.

Witwatersrand Basin remains the richest gold mine in South Africa that also holds rich deposits of other minerals like silver, uranium, and iridium as gold-refining by-products.

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