It was Don Ncube, one of the pioneers of black economic empowerment (BEE), who once quipped: "You cannot talk about South Africa without talking about the mining industry." He made this comment at the launch of a BEE vehicle he led, Real Africa Investments Ltd (RAIL), in 1994. His comment was in response to a question why RAIL had identified mining as an area of focus when it was a "sunset" industry. At the time, gold was sitting at below $350/oz and the obituary of the industry was already being written.

Fast-forward to two-and-a-half decades later and the prices of gold and other precious metals have risen exponentially, with gold hovering just under the $2,000 mark, and mining remains as integral to SA's economy as it was when diamonds were discovered in Kimberley in the 1860s...

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