During his early years as a miner in South Africa, Joas Mahanuque spent six hours a day on his knees drilling for Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. The dust-filled tunnels half a mile underground were too low for him to stand, and temperatures reached 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius).
Today, he has essentially the same job 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) beneath the surface for Gold Fields Ltd. But unlike most of the precious-metals miners in the country, Mahanuque sits comfortably atop a new 7-ton vehicle, using a joystick to control an 8-foot drill as ventilated air blows behind him.
“It’s not hard,” the 37-year-old said while taking a break under the bright tunnel lights of South Deep, the country’s only fully mechanized underground gold mine. “You just sit and operate and make money.” Continue Reading →