In South Africa, mining has always been an important source of economic wealth. Since the days of the first diamond mine in Kimberley, mining companies in South Africa have been popping up like weeds. South Africa has a lot of natural wealth and the country’s resources extend mostly to gold and platinum mining.
As an exported commodity, gold is valued very highly, and platinum, due to its rarity, is also considered a very precious metal. Because of this, South African gold fetches a high price on many markets and is in great demand internationally. However, there have been many years of unrest in South African gold mines because of the status of the miners. For a long time, miners were treated badly, in that in terms of labour, they were not being paid well, and their living conditions were appalling. Miners’ unions have been making efforts to remedy this, but in a country struck with unemployment, the status of mining is affected negatively by the way miners are treated.
Though mining jobs are easy to find, since those who are unskilled are easy to train in this regard, mining companies still struggle to find workers who will commit to the job, since there are plentiful strikes. As such, the economy of South Africa, which is so intricately tied to the mining industry, is heavily dependent on these mines. Every time a miner’s union calls for a strike, the economy of South Africa teeters like a large rock on a precipice.
Gold mining in South Africa, being such an important source of income to the country, is an occupation that should be held in high esteem, especially considering the dangers of it. And yet, we do not seem to value our miners as highly as we should. As such, the country risks being negatively affected by gold mining, because so much importance is placed on it.
Where will the future of mining in the country take South Africa? One can only speculate that the country will keep in the same traditions as it has for tens of years, and hope that the conditions on miners in their workplace will improve.