Most people don’t know how hard it is to mine gold. You’ll get to see it now. This is a fun show, with a look at South Africa’s most important business, as the country with the largest natural gold deposits on Earth. It’s amazing process, that I’d never seen from beginning to end before.
In South Africa’s North West Province is one of the world’s most intense engineering feats and the deepest occupyable spot on the planet. It’s the Mponeng is a gold mine. Located over 4 km (2.5 mi) below the surface, the “commute” from the surface to the bottom of the mine takes an hour and a half at 40 miles per hour, in elevators which can carry up to 120 miners at a time, the biggest elevators in the world. [I know that the math doesn’t jibe – but this is what the presenter says, so I don’t know if this might have to do with changing elevators and/or if the “commute” to which he’s referring also includes the walk from the elevator, at 12,600 below the ground to the site where they’re blasting the wall].
The temperature at that depth 66°C (151°F), and the mine pumps slurry ice underground to cool the shafts’ air to below 30°C (86°F).
The mine needs to recover only 10 grams of gold per ton excavated to remain profitable, at a price of $19.40 per gram of gold extracted. The mine encompasses at least two gold reefs, with the deepest, one meter thick – at a surprisingly low concentration. By the end, you’ll understand why gold is so precious.