South Africa has an abundance of mineral wealth, holding the world's largest reserve of gold, platinum and manganese ore. It is no surprise then that it is the world's largest producer of gold and platinum.
The largest diamonds in the world have been found in South African mines. These include the Cullinan diamond and the Golden Jubilee. The Cullinan diamond weighed 3,106.75 carats when found. It was cut into the Great Star of Africa and the Lesser Star of Africa, which are both part of the British Crown Jewels.
Mining in South Africa has had a tumultuous history. During the apartheid era, black miners were forced to work in dangerous conditions, and for much lower pay than their 'white' colleagues. Efforts are being addressed to deal with this previous disparity and previously disadvantaged people are increasingly owning more of a stake in the mining industry.
The mining industry, naturally, has had far reaching cultural influence. One such example are the gumboot (Wellington) boot dances. Originally used as a form of communication in the mines, the dances consist of slaps on the boot and the rattling of ankle chains in rhythmic beats. Songs such as Shosholoza and Stimela were all about the long train rides of the migrant of workers on their way to the mines.
The Western Deep gold mine in the Gauteng Province is the world's deepest mine, descending 3.6 kilometers into the earth.