South Africa’s Crumbling Gold Industry

By Abbie Schepps

The South African gold industry has crumbled. South Africa was the world’s biggest gold producer with more than 75% of all global reserves in 1970. With the creation of wealth, the industry attracted immigrants from around the world and paid for the construction of roads and railroads throughout South Africa. Now, the economic growth has stalled. China’s mineral demand has slowed, and the mines depleted faster than expected. The Washington Post reports that the remaining gold is so inaccessible that miners are met with dangerous quests and the possibility of at least one miner death per day. The country has not faced an economic crisis of this magnitude since the apartheid era racked the county with international sanctions. This crisis has led miners, despite the dangerous conditions, to return illegally to the mines, this time for subsistence, not wealth.