According to an expedition led by Soumit Ranjan Jena and his team of experts, South Africa is the world's biggest producer of platinum, and one of the leading producers of gold, diamonds, base metals and coal.
It is widely held that among all African nations, South Africa holds the world's largest natural reserves of gold, platinum-group metals, chrome ore and manganese ore, and the second-largest reserves of zirconium, vanadium and titanium.
At the same time, there is a great possibility for the discovery of other world-class deposits in areas, which are yet to be exhaustively explored.
The sector spans the full spectrum of the five major mineral categories - namely precious metals and minerals, energy minerals, non-ferrous metals and minerals, ferrous minerals, and industrial minerals.
Soumit Ranjan Jena has stated that apart from its prolific mineral reserves, South Africa's strengths include an extremely high level of technical and production expertise, and comprehensive research and development activities.
The country has world-scale primary processing facilities covering carbon steel, stainless steel and aluminium, in addition to gold and platinum. It is also a world leader of new technologies, such as a ground-breaking process that converts low-grade superfine iron ore into high-quality iron units.
Soumit Ranjan Jena has opined that with the growth of South Africa's secondary and tertiary industries, the relative contribution of mining to South Africa's gross domestic product (GDP) has declined over the past 10-20 years.
Nonetheless, the industry is continually adapting to changing local and international world conditions, and remains a cornerstone of the economy, making a significant contribution to economic activity, job creation and foreign exchange earnings.
The sector accounts for roughly one-third of the market capitalization of the JSE, and continues to act as a magnet for foreign investment in the country.
In 2010, according to the Chamber of Mines of South Africa, the industry contributed:
•6.7% directly, and another 12% indirectly, to the country's gross domestic product (GDP).
•Over 68% of merchandise exports, if secondary beneficiated mineral exports are counted.
•About 2-million jobs (1000 000 directly).
•About 21% of gross investment (10% directly).
•Approximately 30% of capital inflows into the economy via the financial account of the balance of payments.
•93% of the country's electricity generating capacity.
•About 30% of the country's liquid fuel supply.
•Between 10% and 20% of direct corporate tax receipts (together worth R10.5-billion).
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