The Witwatersrand Gold
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The Witwatersrand Gold

The Witwatersrand gold producing province is located in South Africa. It is the largest gold producing area on Earth producing 40% of the gold ever mined

Witwatersrand Gold

The largest amount of gold produced in the world comes from the mines of the Witwatersrand basin in South Africa. Not only is it the largest producer, but contains the largest reserves of gold on earth. To date this amazing basin has produced over 1.5 billion ounces of gold with plenty more to come. It has produced 40% of the gold ever mined since the beginning of time

The Witwatersrand basin is situated in the heartland of the South African gold mining industry. This amazing geological region in South Africa stretches from 40 miles east of Johannesburg to more than 90 miles west, and then it swings to the southwest into the Free State province.

Witwatersrand basin was originally discovered near Johannesburg in 1886. Since then it has produced nearly half the gold that is ever been mined. Some of the deepest mines in the world are located near with depths ranging upwards of 11,000. It also hosts the deepest mind in the world, the Savuka mine that is over 12,391 feet deep.

With the passage of time many of the older mines are nearly exhausted, but the Witwatersrand basin still produces much of the old world output of gold. Throughout the deposit gold is found in thin layers that are called reefs. These reefs are found in conglomerate and are considered by many geologists to be fossilized placer deposits. In addition to gold the Witwatersrand basin also produces many other minerals. Silver and iridium, a platinum group metal are recovered as gold refining byproducts.

The word Witwatersrand in English means “white water ridge” the word is of Afrikaans origin, this feature is often simply called “the Rand.” The Rand is located in the Gauteng province of South Africa. This province used to be called the Transvaal of South Africa.

Another product that is extensively mined in the Rand is coal. Coal however comes nowhere near matching either the tonnage or value of the gold produced. It also is produced from much younger rocks. Although most of this coal is used domestically in South Africa some is exported to other countries through Port Elizabeth or by railroad.

A recent discovery by an international team of scientists may have finally unlocked the mystery of the origin of the Witwatersrand gold deposits. The discovery was described in a recent issue of the journal “Science.” This discovery not only sheds light on much of the earth’s early geology, but also promises to be a real help in any future gold prospecting.

Two elements that are often in gold are rhenium and osmium both platinum group metals having isotopes that decay over very long spans of time. These isotopes act just like an atomic clock so that the age of gold can be determined in relation to the surrounding rocks. The gold in the Rand is a quarter billion years older than the surrounding rocks. This research proves the gold of the Rand had a placer origin originating in an ancient mountain range that shed debris into a braided stream system.

The Rand itself has produced over 40% of the gold mined in the world in the past 120 years.

For more information about gold mining go here!


Origin of the world’s largest gold deposit found?, Charles Chui, National Geographic News,

Whitwatersrand, Wikipedia,

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Bill Haynes

You may be interested to read a recent article we posted on The World's 10 Most Prolific Gold Fields.


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