Doornkop Gold Mine
A man walks past the Doornkop Gold Mine, about 30kms west of Johannesburg, in September 2013. Reuters

South Africa, home to one of the world's richest gold reserves, has been adversely impacted by the end of gold's 12-year bull run.

Lower gold prices, which have dropped 25% this year, ageing mines and higher operating costs have together weighed down on the gold mining industry in the world's sixth largest producer.

The prices of metals, including gold and copper, have dropped sharply this year and investors are refraining from making big bets on the mining industry. However production costs and salaries, driven by a shortage of specialists, could remain high.

As such, the gold mining industry in South Africa has slashed 14,461 jobs in the nine months to September; it employed 126,587 as of that month, according to South Africa's statistics agency.

Ageing Mines

The 70-year old Blyvooruitzicht gold mine, located about 80kms southwest of Johannesburg, was shut down in August. Falling prices, soaring electricity tariffs and demands for higher pay, made it difficult to profitably extract the precious ore, reported Bloomberg.

Blyvooruitzicht's closure has impacted local businesses. Workers, who thronged the local Blyvoor Spar grocery store for 32 years, now shop for only the essentials.

Elsewhere, at Blyvoor Golf Club, the 18-hole course has seen very little action in recent months.

"You can see the despair on their faces," said grocery store owner Desiree Barreiro, adding that even customers who are still employed were being cautious.

"People are afraid to spend extra money," she told the news agency.

"When the mine looked after it, the course was in excellent condition," said Paul Putter, the president of the golf course.

"What I'm hoping for now? That there are some people interested in the mine," Putter added.

"[South Africa's gold-mining] industry is in crisis," economic strategist Chris Hart warned in October, echoing what the Chamber of Mines of South Africa (CoM) states on its website, that the nation's gold production has plummeted 83% in the last ten years.

Dismal Numbers

In 2012, the country's gold production dropped to 167 tonnes, the lowest since 1905.

Between 2007 and 2012, electricity tariffs to the mining sector surged 238%; diesel costs shot up 69%; reinforcing steel jumped 57%; and worker remuneration increased 12% on year, reported Mining