South Africa: The Real ‘El Dorado’

Updated: Jan 23, 2021

For centuries, many excursionists and teams of adventurers traveled to South America in search of a land filled with gold, jewels, and other rare natural commodities. They claimed to be seeking a land called “El Dorado.” Many travelers attempted the journey, but few returned with noteworthy rewards. In hindsight, maybe someone should have told them about South Africa.

About 1 in every 40 South Africans work in the mining sector. In some provinces, mining accounts for a whopping 33 percent of the GDP1. The country’s deep involvement in the precious metals industry has led South Africa to institute regulatory bodies, strict regulations regarding financial reporting, and other practices to ensure prolonged success. So far, South Africa has experienced just that.

In 2014, South Africa claimed responsibility for 68 percent of the world’s exports of platinum, more than four times the market share of second-place Russia (15 percent)2. Equally impressive, South Africa was the most dominant producer of gold for over 30 years, holding the number-one rank until 20063. And if ridiculous amounts of precious metals would not satisfy restless adventurers, South Africa’s diamonds surely would. The largest gem-quality diamond ever discovered (the Cullinan Diamond) was uncovered in Cullinan, South Africa—weighing over 3,000 carats at the time of discovery4.

Thousands of kilograms of rare metals and stones are produced in South Africa each year. It is noteworthy that even in an industry as sporadic and unpredictable as mining, accounting principles are mandated to maintain relative financial assurance and order. With these principles coupled with the SADPMR, South Africa hopes to maintain its global positioning in the precious metals industry.

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