Mponeng Gold Mine

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Mponeng-goudmyn, Merafong City-pm, Wesrand-dm, a.jpg
Above-ground operations at Mponeng mine.
Mponeng is located in South Africa
Location in South Africa
CountrySouth Africa
Coordinates26°26′10″S 27°25′50″E / 26.43611°S 27.43056°E / -26.43611; 27.43056Coordinates: 26°26′10″S 27°25′50″E / 26.43611°S 27.43056°E / -26.43611; 27.43056
CompanyHarmony Gold

Mponeng is a gold mine in South Africa's Gauteng province. Previously known as Western Deep Levels #1 Shaft, the underground and surface works were commissioned in 1987. It extends over 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) below the surface,[1] and is considered to be one of the most substantial gold mines in the world.[2] It is also currently the world's deepest mine from ground level,[3] reaching a depth of 4 km (2.5 mi) below ground level. The trip from the surface to the bottom of the mine takes over an hour.[1]

Over 5400 metric tonnes of rock are excavated from Mponeng each day.[1] At a price of $19.4 per gram of gold, the mine only needs to extract 10 grams of gold per ton excavated to remain profitable.[1] The mine contains at least two gold reefs, with the deepest one metre thick.[1]

Harmony Gold purchased Mponeng from AngloGold Ashanti in September 2020. Along with AGA's Mine Waste Solutions, Harmony paid approximately $300m.

Physical conditions[edit]

The temperature of the rock reaches 66 °C (151 °F), and the mine pumps slurry ice underground to cool the tunnel air to below 30 °C (86 °F).[1] A mixture of concrete, water, and rock is packed into excavated areas, which further acts as an insulator.[1] Tunnel walls are secured by flexible shotcrete reinforced with steel fibers, which is further held in place by diamond-mesh netting.[1]

In 2008, researchers looking for extremophile organisms discovered the bacterium Desulforudis audaxviator present within groundwater samples from kilometers deep in the mine.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

Danny Forster visited the mine for the fifth episode of Build It Bigger's eighth season.

Millan Ludeña, an Ecuadorian marathon runner, became the first person to run a half-marathon fully underground in the deepest part of Mponeng Gold Mine. A Guinness World Records adjudicator was on hand to document the race and issued the certificate for the deepest half-marathon.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Wadhams, Nick (March 2011), "Gold Standards: How miners dig for riches in a 2-mile-deep furnace", Wired, vol. 19 no. 3, p. 42.
  2. ^ "Mponeng, South Africa". Mining Technology. Retrieved 9 May 2011.
  3. ^ World's ten deepest mines
  4. ^ Timmer, John (October 9, 2008). "In the deep, a community of one". Ars Technica. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
  5. ^ García, Sergio (23 September 2017). "Ecuadorian sets record in run 4,000m below surface". Anadolu Agency.