The TauTona Mine
or Western Deep No.3 Shaft
, is a gold mine in South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...
. At some 3.9 kilometres (2.4 mi) deep it is currently home to the world's deepest mining operations.
The mine is one of the three Western Deep Levels mines of the West Wits
gold field west of Johannesburg
Johannesburg also known as Jozi, Jo'burg or Egoli, is the largest city in South Africa, by population. Johannesburg is the provincial capital of Gauteng, the wealthiest province in South Africa, having the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-Saharan Africa...
. The mine is near the town of Carletonville. TauTona neighbours the Mponeng
Mponeng is a gold mine in South Africa's North West Province. It extends over two miles below the surface, and is considered to be one of the deepest and most substantial gold mines in the world. The trip from the surface to the bottom of the mine takes over an hour.6,000 tons of rock are...
and Savuka mines, and TauTona and Savuka share processing facilities. All three are owned by AngloGold Ashanti
AngloGold Ashanti Limited is a global gold mining company. It was formed in 2004 by the merger of AngloGold and the Ashanti Goldfields Corporation.AngloGold Ashanti Limited is now a global gold producer with 21 operations on four continents...
. The mine was originally built by the Anglo American Corporation with its 2 km (1.2 mi) deep main shaft being sunk in 1957. The name TauTona means "great lion" in the Setswana language. The mine began operation in 1962. It is one of the most efficient mines in South Africa and remains in continuous operation even during periods when the price of gold is low. Since its construction two secondary shafts have been added bringing the mine to its current depth. The mine today has some 800 km (497.1 mi) of tunnels and employs some 5,600 miners. The mine is a dangerous place to work and an average of five miners die in accidents each year. The mine is so deep that temperatures in the mine can rise to life threatening levels. Air conditioning equipment is used to cool the mine from 55 °C (131 °F) down to a more tolerable 28 °C (82.4 °F). The rock face temperature currently reaches 60 °C (140 °F).
By 2008, the mine reached some 3.9 km (2.4 mi) underground. This made it the deepest mine in the world, surpassing the 3585 m (11,761.8 ft) deep East Rand Mine
East Rand Proprietary Mines is a 100-year-old underground gold mining operation on the Witwatersrand Basin at Boksburg, to the east of Johannesburg. The mine employs 2,740 people...
by a considerable margin. This new shaft extended the depth from its previous 3.6 km (2.2 mi), and will extend the mine's life to 2015.
The journey to the rock face can take 1 hour from surface level. The lift cage that transports the workers from the surface to the bottom travels at 16 metres per second (57.6 km/h).
The mine has also been featured on the MegaStructures
MegaStructures is a documentary television series appearing on the National Geographic Channel and Five in the United Kingdom, on France 5 in France and on 7mate in Australia....
program produced by National Geographic.
In the 2008 financial year, four employees were killed at the TauTona mine, out of seven fatal accidents that occurred at AngloGold Ashanti's West Wits operations and 14 fatalities overall in the year. The safety record of the mine improved in 2009, when it only recorded one fatality.
Production figures of the recent past were:
|| Cost per ounce
|| 646,000 ounces
|| 12.09 g/t
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....
|| 568,000 ounces
|| 10.88 g/t
|| US$ 245
|| 502,000 ounces
|| 9.62 g/t
|| US$ 256
|| 474,000 ounces
|| 10.18 g/t
|| US$ 269
|| 409,000 ounces
|| 9.67 g/t
|| US$ 317
|| 314,000 ounces
|| 8.66 g/t
|| US$ 374
|| 218,000 ounces
|| 7.29 g/t
|| US$ 559