South Africa is one of the wealthiest countries in the world in terms of natural resources. The country is blessed with abundant natural resources like mineral reserves, scenic natural landscapes, wildlife etc.
You might want to ask, what are the major natural resources found in South Africa?
South Africa is very rich in natural resources such as diamond, gold, platinum, nickel, coal, chromium, iron ore, uranium, tin, copper, natural gas, manganese, beryllium, phosphates, rare earth elements, natural gas and salt.
List of Natural Resources in South Africa
As earlier mentioned, South Africa is abundantly blessed with so many natural resources. However, we’ll be taking a look at some of the top 7 natural resources found in South Africa.
South Africa produces more than 10% of the world’s gold, from more than 30 functioning mines. The country also has about 50% of the global gold reserves. However, production is slowly declining.
Gold was discovered in South Africa in the late 1800s and has grown to become one of the most important industries for the country. The main goldfields centred historically on Johannesburg; the major areas of production now lie some distance east, west (Far West Rand), and south (northern Free State) of Johannesburg, centred on the areas of Klerksdorp and Evander.
2. Platinum and Chromium
South Africa is the world’s largest producer of platinum and chromium. The country contributes 68.32% of the total world platinum production. This is more than two times as much platinum produced by any country on Earth.
Platinum is mined at centres such as Merensky Reef, which extends from Southern Zimbabwe to Pretoria, Rustenburg and Steelport in the northeast. These areas have some of the biggest platinum mines including Bafokeng Rasimone Platinum Mines and Rustenburg Platinum Mines.
Vast deposits of platinum-group and chromium minerals are located mainly to the north of Pretoria. Northern Cape province contains most of the major deposits of iron ore and manganese, and titanium-bearing sands are common on the eastern seaboard.
South Africa is the global producer of diamonds and is home to 42 different diamond mining companies. Some of the top diamond mining companies in South Africa include De Beers Consolidated Mines Group and Trans Hex, both of which reported an increase of 23.8% and 59.5% respectively in their diamond output.
As of 2017, South Africa reported a total diamond production of 9.7 million carats, which is estimated to be worth USD 3.1 billion. Diamond mining is majorly concentrated around Kimberley.
Coal is also one of the dominant natural resources found in South Africa. About 59% of South Africa’s electricity is produced thermally, almost entirely from coal.
Large known deposits lie, mostly at easily mined depths, beneath the Mpumalanga and northern Free State Highveld. Coal is produced primarily for export (to East Asia and Europe) and for the generation of electricity.
Most electric power is generated by ESKOM at huge stations in Mpumalanga. Synthetic fuel derived from coal supplies a small proportion of the country’s energy needs, as does imported oil refined at the ports or piped to a major inland refinery at Sasolburg.
The six major coal-producing companies in South Africa include Anglo Coal, BHP Billiton Coal South Africa (BECSA), Exxaro Resources, Glencore Xstrata Coal, Sasol Mining and Optimum Coal Holdings (OCH).
South Africa is very rich in Ferrochrome and is among the world’s top producer. In fact, South Africa is home to about 72% of the global chromite reserves. The country has invested in the most advanced production equipment and this has allowed it to rival some of the other leading producers such as China. South Africa produces about 4.8 million tons of ferrochrome every year.
South Africa produces about 23% of the world’s vanadium. This element is considered one of the most abundant in the world. South Africa also doubles as the third leading producer of this mineral after China and Russia.
Most of the vanadium is required for steel production. This metal helps to enhance the strength of the steel. A combination of steel and vanadium is used to produce crankshafts, piston rods, axles, and armour plates. The mineral is also used in producing colour televisions and ceramics.
7. Other Metals
South Africa is naturally rich in rare earth metals. They have large reserves of iron ore, platinum, manganese, chromium, copper, uranium, silver, beryllium, and titanium.
Natural gas has also been found in the southern coast, however, no commercial exploitation of petroleum have been found. The synthetic fuel is majorly produced from coal.