Descend Into The World's Deepest Gold Mine

Tyler Durden's picture

Humans will do almost anything for gold.

In fact, as Visual Capitalist's Jeff Desjardins notes, they will even suspend themselves 2.5 miles into the Earth – braving extreme temperatures, armed thieves, and constant seismic activity – just to mine a 30-inch gold reef.

Welcome to another day at Mponeng, the world’s deepest gold mine.

Courtesy of: The Money Project

The Depths of the Witwatersrand

If you own any gold, there is about a 50% chance it comes from the Witwatersrand Basin in South Africa. Gold was first discovered there in 1886, and it is speculated that the discovery may have only been possible because of an asteroid impact. The Vredefort crater, the world’s largest impact crater at about 200 miles in diameter, is now 2.02 billion years old and potentially helped reveal the Witwatersrand gold outcrops.

The Mponeng gold mine, located west of Johannesburg and owned by AngloGold Ashanti, takes advantage of some of the deepest and richest areas of this deposit. Mponeng also represents the extent to which people are willing to go to take advantage of this region’s unparalleled mineral wealth.

Going Down…

Each day, roughly 4,000 miners take the plunge to get to the bottom of the mine. The journey includes taking the world’s tallest elevator, which hits a top speed at 40 mph, to make their way down.

That far into the Earth’s crust, conditions are intense. Rock walls in the Mponeng mine reach temperatures of 140°F (60°C) and humidity levels often exceed 95%. To keep things cool, the mine uses a novel cooling system to manage temperatures. Over 6,000 tonnes of ice slurry are pumped into underground reservoirs, and giant fans help to spread the air flow.

Every day, about 5,000 lbs of explosives are blasted in the mine, and 6,400 tonnes of rock are excavated.

Breaking New Ground

Gold production at the world’s deepest gold mine has been declining each year, so miners going even deeper to try and get gold.

The continued search for gold in Mponeng has led to scientific discoveries. A bacterium called Desulforudis audaxviator was found in groundwater – and it’s quite unique. The bacterium exists independently from the sun, using energy from natural radioactivity to create food. Some experts think that similar life forms could exist on other planets.

The wealth of the mine has also created an unusual crime problem. Armed, illegal miners called “ghost miners” descend into the mine for months at a time, which turns their skin pale due to a lack of sunlight. This has helped create an underground (pun intended!) marketplace, where legitimate miners profit from the ghost miners’ existence. They can sell a $1 loaf of bread for $12 underground, where it is in high demand.

Mission Accomplished

At the bottom of the world’s deepest gold mine, there is a 30-inch seam of gold called the Ventersdorp Contact Reef.

This is what the miners came for, but soon they will have to dig even deeper. In fact, plans are already in place to tap into neighboring gold reefs, which would extend the life of the mine beyond 2040.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
SomethingSomethingDarkSide's picture

Get some of that bacteria near Fukishima, what could go wrong?

Manthong's picture

“Humans will do almost anything for gold.”

I hear that there’s lots of gold on Venus.

AlaricBalth's picture

Why go through all this trouble for such a barbarous relic?

knukles's picture

Well Captain Koons told Butch that for five long years his dad wore this watch up his ass. Then, he died of dysentery. He gave Koons the watch. And Koons hid that uncomfortable hunk of gold up his ass for two years. Then he was sent home to his family. Then Koons gave his dad's gold watch to Butch.
Now that's some serious shit.

LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD's picture
LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD (not verified) knukles Dec 11, 2016 5:39 PM

Don't forget to get your free "buyer's guide..."

Yog Soggoth's picture

You almost had me for a sec. I looked up your cap. I guess that is why you have Zippy as your picture thing. 

tarsubil's picture

Be thankful we can order our gold online and pay for it with digital fiat.

Raffie's picture

That is amazing.

Spooky stuff if a big earthquake hits that mine.

over 2mi down and there is a collapse. no thx.

ShrNfr's picture

No worse than 1 mile down with a collapse actually.

knukles's picture

You can drown in your own vomit, too, you know.
Or like me and Mrs K, last night we had a dinner with 8 other couples.  7 of which are bat-shit-left-wing-bone-crazy-ass Progressives.
It's a close call....

LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD's picture
LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD (not verified) knukles Dec 11, 2016 5:38 PM

"You can drown in your own vomit, too, you know."

Ahhh...  The good ol'e days: Near drownings in my vomit.  Not a worry in the world other than that and which young woman I'll get.

robertsgt40's picture

I didn't barf.  I was just clearing my throat.

Placerville's picture

If you like your vomit, you can keep your vomit.

Raffie's picture

Ya, going out with people that are HEIL HITLER LEFT WING NUTS are not fun.

"You can kick 'em down the stairs and say it's a accident but you can't just shoot 'em'

Hateful Eight  (good movie if you have not see, also Law Abiding Citizen good as well)

-Kurt Russel

jmack's picture

hateful eight was a horrible movie.

38BWD22's picture



Nice article, nice graphic.  Pretty soon (2017 or 2018 are what I have seen) worldwide Au production will peak, and that gets WORSE if fuel costs go up.

But, there are HUGE gold stocks up here (180,000 tonnes).  Lower production will not impinge on prices too much.  See FOFOA!


Uwantsun's picture

actually, they have found HUGE gold reserves here in the US and Northern areas that they WILL NOT mine. Like oil wells they keep capped, gold goes much the same way.

bluskyes's picture

Like the pebble project. Over 4000 tons of gold, but the EPA says no go.

King Tut's picture
King Tut (not verified) Shyysiryxius Dec 11, 2016 5:04 PM

Why dig for wealth when (((you))) can just print it?

thatthingcanfly's picture

Boy, I'd like to sink my shaft into HER mine, if you know what I mean.

Mr.BlingBling's picture

We always know what you mean.

SubjectivObject's picture

Lives on radiation.


ShrNfr's picture

Not on radiation per se. They live on the heat produced by radiation just like the stuff around "black smokers" live on the heat, etc. from the volcanic vent.

Grandad Grumps's picture

"Humans will do almost anything for gold."

No, not really ... but I think that the elitists would like to believe this is true.

manofthenorth's picture

"Humans WILL do almost ANYTHING for money"

Gold = Money

Are you really going to dispute 1000s of years of human history ?

King Tut's picture
King Tut (not verified) manofthenorth Dec 11, 2016 5:07 PM

money is an agreed-upon means of exchange-  it could be Chuck E Cheese tokens just as well as gold. ZHers can be so dense sometimes 

Wow72's picture

Real money has to be equal to work for it to really work.  Its a place holder in trade and something that represents REAL WORK is the only way to have sound money.  If you want work for your work? When its anything other than work PEOPLE WILL CHEAT? CAUSE THEY CAN.   Money can be anything equal to work.  When you have something that is not equal to work it is just a different form of fiat.  10 out of 10 times fiat wont work.

When money is not equal to work society devolves the way we have?  On a long enough time line the survival rate for every fiat currency drops to zero. PERIOD.  Work always holds value because its what they want and its what they dont want to do.

Currency can be anything people agree on, but it never has worked?   The definition of silver is money in over 40 languages because it equals WORK and for no other reason. Work is universal money and its something no one can change, its natures law.. I didnt make it up.

Anything that doesnt equal work is a con mans way of stealing your work. Thats all it ever is.

If I can sit here with a printer and print "money" and get you to work, IM PRETTY SMART and YOU NOT SO MUCH?

Now if you go down that mine shaft and get me some gold risk your life and I build you something really unique in exchange, thats what works. Real trade does still exist.

Ignorance is bliss's picture

You're describing barter. I think you owe ZHers an apology.

booboo's picture

King Tut manages a Chuck E Cheese so he has an endless supply of tokens. Kids pay for them with dollars with which Tut buys gold, very few dollars he uses to coin more tokens.

Money is time stored, time you can use for whatever the fuck you want or you can trade some of your stored time for other peoples labor. Time is the most valuable asset on the planet.

Wow72's picture

Money is work stored, time is a component of work.  People are wrong on that.   A gold coin represents work, you have to find it, dig it up, melt it down, and most put it back in the ground and it takes time to do all that, when you have a gold coin in your hand it equals work.  When you buy a loaf of bread you want someone’s complete work not their time, else you would have no ingredients and therefore no bread.  Work = labor, materials, time, equipment, research, energy exerted(oil or fuel used up)etc, etc, etc.  Do you charge for only your time and not for materials, equipment or labor?   If you charge for all your expenses then money = work to you too.

Gold is proof of work or work realized. Its not future tense, its past tense.  Example the sum of work = gold.  gold is the sum or the result of work performed.  Gold = Work performed.  Thats why its in our constitution, not many things other than silver fit that bill.   AND OUR FOREFATHERS KNEW IT!!!!

The only thing allowed by our constitution for money is gold or silver.   They both equal work? NOTHING ABOUT TIME?  You need to do something with your time in order for someone to want it as work?  People dont want time they want work or the sum of your work.  Time is stored in work, but work is not usually exclusively time.  PERIOD!

Again this is natures law, not mine.   "Time is money" is an expression where the faster you go the more you make, its not literal though.

booboo's picture

you are wasting your money discussing this with me. Go SPEND your time making money. You can spend your time making money but you can't spend your money making time, cept' in a whore house where you get chlamydai where you will have to SPEND time at the Doctors office.

Yukon Cornholius's picture

And if you needed actual gold and silver to exchange for goods and services, you would see many 'professions' disappear. Who would spend a an ounce of silver on...
Gym memberships
Fast food/coffee
Sporting events?

Wow72's picture

Your right, its a great point. This is the dilemma for centuries. Real money is too valuable for some of those things. See the problem with fiat? But you have no problem spending dollars on any of those things? You must give your silver a value higher than a dollar and this is hypothetical? I do too. Because if silver seems too valuable to spend? Its 17 bucks right now?  You wouldnt spend it because you know its worth MOAR! What if silver was 100oz would you spend 1oz on any of those things? It depends on how much work you would have to do to get that oz and how much is the service your buying really worth in comparison?   Lets say it takes 6oz? wouldnt be worth it, but one might be? What if silver was 1000oz and it only cost you a tenth of an oz? It all depends on how much you REALLY value those services and how much work you have to do for the silver? The problem with paper fiat is we always cheat with it? People dont even think twice about spending fiat on those things? GOOD? maybe? maybe not? What happens is those things of less value dilute the value of the dollar over time.

Its a great point, but its also the reason fiat always unwinds to valueless.  Money should only be used on things of value? TV/Hollywood/Fastfood? If you feel its really worth spending money/your work on something? The things that hold real value would survive because thats what silver represents.  Some of the things on the list are worth real money, some arent?

What your saying is you really have to be thoughtful when your spending real money, think about that? I admit sometimes I dont think twice about spending a dollar?

What is the difference between spending silver(hard currency) .vs Fiat?  One has MOAR personal value to you? Would it be good if people thought more about what they are spending on? Probably at this point? You make a great point.

The question is, how do you keep fiat from becoming valueless over time? To sustain things that when it really comes down to it people would think are not valuable enough services to spend their work on?

As always its a balancing act that is very difficult to achieve stasis.  Some today would prefer a candy bar to a silver bar. Its really pathetic?

Yukon Cornholius's picture

Well said. And in your final example I do believe everybody chose the candy bar over the silver bar. Many questioned the authenticity of the candy, few even touched the metal.

Mr.BlingBling's picture

Unlike the brain trust over at Daily Koss and HuffPo, right?

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

<<  Owned by... China

<<  Owned by... Tribesmen

LA_Goldbug's picture

Yes, that allows for a clearer answer to your question.

While we are at it, what about the diamond owners in the same region. Who are they ?

sinbad2's picture

The diamond trade is controlled by Rothschild/JP Morgan, but diamonds are not that rare. They just make sure that all diamond sales go through one company, De Beers.

gaoptimize's picture

Manufactured real carbon crystal diamonds are breaking the De Beers cartel.  Just a couple more years left, as they now have a process which is identical to nature's and results are indistinguishable.

AlexCharting's picture

You know, only ZH members see your poll. Your comment makes no sense to +95% of viewers. 

SixIsNinE's picture

that's alright.  it's part of the draw to register and get off their arse to get in the Zero Lounge and learn about the Reds & Greenies, participate.

for non-signed in readers, the comment section in certain circumstances makes a lot more sense when you see the vote tallies.


tarabel's picture



Those damed Uighurs

(Chinese Tribesmen)

MEFOBILLS's picture

Goldmen learned to have their banker "credit" ride on top of Gold reserves in a 10:1 ratio.  Of course the ratio was ignored, sometimes going to 100:1.

By simply calling in loans, or not making new loans, then the "expanding debts" could not be paid.  Debt instruments expand with usury, recalling more credit from the future, than what was created initially.

All private credit systems have a sawtooth, slowly rising money supply, then rapid collapse.  During this collapse phase, it is harvest time.

During harvest, the debt instruments recall real assets.  Harvesting is how patents, land, business, and gold are collected by finance.

Think about the dichotomy.  People work their lives in harsh conditions, mining for gold.  Bankers type numbers on a keyboard, or use ink on a ledger.

Alchemy is the conversion of lead into gold - and impossibility of course.  But, the equivalent of alchemy is done to convert ink/keyboard entries, into grabbing gold during harvest phase.

London was the world's gold center, despite the island nation having only meager natural sources of gold.



LA_Goldbug's picture

"During harvest, the debt instruments recall real assets. "

In so few easy to understand words you have hit it on the nail.