|Kromdraai is a tourist attraction. Bats roost in its tunnels — long since abandoned. Ore was found here in 1881, just before the gold rush that created Johannesburg around the vast Witwatersrand. After a century of intensive gold production, South Deep, a mine owned by Gold Fields, extends about two miles underground.|
Mponeng, owned by AngloGold Ashanti, goes to 2.5 miles and takes the world record.
|The mine, which lies 7km from Sterkfontein in Gauteng’s Magaliesberg region, was first mined by Johannes Minnaar, who hit upon a 50cm-wide gold-bearing vein locked in quartzite and shale. Early miners followed the vein for a kilometre into a hilltop, chipping away at the gold seam. They harnessed donkeys to pull pans laden with ore along rail tracks to a crushing operation. Despite early mining success at Kromdraai, a much bigger gold rush on the Witwatersrand in 1886 lured miners away and the mine shut down in 1914.|
|As the drilling of the rock by handheld machinery reaches its human limits, Gauteng’s gold producers are racing to introduce modern methods. This means a shift from labour-intensive to far more machine-intensive mining. From more than 1,000 metric tons of gold in 1970 at the industry’s peak, production has fallen to about 150 tons in recent years.|