Economic activity in modern-day South Africa has been centred on mining activities, their ancillary services and supplies. The country’s stock exchange in Johannesburg was established in 1887, a decade after the first diamonds were discovered on the banks of the Orange River, and almost simultaneously with the gold rush on the world-famous Witwatersrand.

In many ways, South Africa’s political, social and economic landscape has been dominated by mining, given that, for so many years, the sector has been the mainstay of the South African economy. Although gold, diamonds, platinum and coal are the most well-known among the minerals and metals mined, South Africa also hosts chrome, vanadium, titanium and a number of other lesser minerals.

Key mining facts:

  • In 2017 the mining sector contributed R312 billion to the South African gross domestic product (GDP)
  • A total of 464,667 people were employed in the mining sector in 2017
  • Each person employed in the mining sector has up to nine indirect dependants
  • The mining sector has, for many years, attracted valuable foreign direct investment to South Africa

Major mining sectors in SA