Land and Resources, Natural Resources
fluorspar, coal seams, Northern Province, Witwatersrand, Uranium
Only 12 percent of South Africa’s land area is cultivated and only 7 percent is forested, but the country is rich in mineral resources. South Africa is the world’s largest producer of gold, with almost all of it coming from the Witwatersrand. Gold is mined to depths below 3,000 m (10,000 ft), making production expensive. Uranium is also extracted commercially in the Witwatersrand. Vast, easily worked coal seams occur between Lesotho and Swaziland, and South Africa has become a leading coal exporter.
The Bush Veld Igneous Complex, a highly mineralized area of 50,000 sq km (20,000 sq mi) located mainly in Northern Province and Mpumalanga, contains a high proportion of the world reserves of several important minerals. It contains 69 percent of world reserves of chrome ore, 45 percent of vanadium, and about 90 percent of andalusite, as well as platinum, nickel, and fluorspar. Diamonds are another important source of South Africa’s mineral wealth. Most of South Africa’s diamond fields are located in the Kimberley area of Northern Cape; this province also has the largest known manganese deposits in the world.
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