The Northern Cape has the smallest population and economy of all nine provinces in South Africa. Its economy is dominated by the mining of iron ore, ferro alloys (manganese in particular) and diamonds.
Iron is the most common element on earth, comprising most of the planet’s inner and outer core. Iron has been used by humans since ancient times to make tools. Most iron is used to manufacture steel, which is in turn used to manufacture machines, buildings and tools.
South Africa accounts for approximately 80% of the world’s identified manganese resources and is also the largest producer of manganese globally.
Diamonds, arguably the ultimate luxury mineral, comprise an intricate lattice of carbon atoms, a crystalline structure that makes them harder than any other form in nature.
Significant investments have been made into the development of rail transport linking mining companies to the coast.
The Northern Cape’s economic growth generally lags national growth, and is linked to the commodity cycle boosted by commodity booms and equally impacted by depressed commodity prices.
The Northern Cape has recently diversified into renewable energy projects and is also home to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project. Other major infrastructure programmes in the province include rail lines to move iron ore and ferro alloys for export and domestic refining.
Limited job opportunities and low levels of pay results in migration from the province.