A team drawn together from the Chamber of Mines, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and equipment makers is awaiting the unprecedented gift of an underground South African mine to begin actively testing ideas and machines that are designed to prevent the country’s gold and platinum production from falling off a cliff in little more than a decade. Graphs from the chamber, whose members produce 90% of SA’s mineral wealth, show steep declines in platinum and gold production within a decade if mines continue to operate as they do now, with negligible mechanisation. By introducing mechanisation, production can continue at lower levels than now for the next 20 years. By making mines continuous mechanised operations, the true value is unlocked, adding another 30 years or more of production in gold and decades more platinum mining. "The chamber has told other stakeholders that this is the last kick of the can. We have to get this right. The age of choice of doing this or not...

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