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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$19.4 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.

Alexandra Bruce

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31 comments

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  • Nice grab…now, let us consider that there have been gold mines found in South Africa which are estimated to be 200,000 years+ in age. I wonder what sort of mechanization those ‘Gods Must Be Crazy’ entities utilized? The index to the right is going to be a serious time dip into one isle of this Electronic Library of Alexandria we have the privilege of exploring, and thank you for that!

  • Dear Sirs;
    I can no longer watch your fascinating and informative videos. This happened just recently within the last week.
    I am sad.
    I hope you can fix this problem soon.

    Sincerely, Randy Largent.

    • Randy,

      Please see my comment below. I’m guessing that you’re not in the US. In the old days of film and TV, the US and Canada were traditionally sold as one territory but in the digital age, I’ve seen that the US and Canada are now sold as two different territories. The only way I can fix this situation is by not running these cable network-produced shows anymore and sticking with independent content, which doesn’t behave like the “legitimate” media. It’s impossible on my end to tell whether an international YouTube territory has licensed the rights to show a documentary. Trial and error is making the state of this space clearer to me. My apologies.

  • Patrick,

    It looks like YouTube is getting more papered-up with the producers of these documentaries and that YouTube Australia hasn’t licensed the rights to this documentary. Before the credit roll at the end, this piece explicitly tells viewers to “share” this film, which I’ve never seen before but this tells me that this edit was evidently made by the Discovery Channel specifically to be uploaded to YouTube. So, this film was produced by a major US cable network and it appears that they have licensed the digital rights to this film to YouTube in the US (as an advertisement for their TV channel). It’s impossible on my end, for me to know which other territories have also licensed these rights, until the new pattern becomes clear.

    I hadn’t been running as many of these network documentaries because of complaints such as yours and I suppose I’ll have to stop running these because almost half of my viewers are outside the US. Ironically, Discovery was originally an Australian-owned company, back in the 1990s.

    We’ve been seeing more and more of this lately. YouTube is no longer the Wild West that it once was. There are no longer bootlegged gems to be found. It’s become more like a legitimate TV network.

  • Dear Alexandra Bruce
    Congratulations on your new website, it’s amazing with the list by categories of all the information available.
    I live in Australia and have been receiving a very day your documentaries for over four years.
    With this new format, I can’t see any documentary, is not available for Australian subscribers ? Or is something wrong with the website.
    Please let me know how to fix it, I really want to continue watching your documentaries .
    Kind Regards

    Patrick Lopez

    • Thanks, Patrick –

      This is a YouTube/copyright issue; a deal made with the content producers, in this case case, the Discovery Networks (formerly an Australian company).

      It’s very confounding because this edit was produced expressly to be uploaded onto YouTube and the end credits enthusiastically encourage users to “share” it – which is why I did, being highly aware of territorial problems like we’re experiencing here.

      There is a workaround and we’re working on it.

      • Interesting. I’m getting word from people in France and South Africa that they’re seeing this doc with no problem so my guess is that Discovery wants Canada to pay up for the rights to show this on Canadian YouTube. How would I ever know that there would be a copyright problem with this video when it actively encourages people to share it!?

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