Witwatersrand (wĭtwôˈtərzrăndˌ) [key] [Afrik., = white water ridge] or the Rand, region, Gauteng prov. (formerly a part of Transvaal), South Africa. The area, which forms the watershed between the Vaal and Olifants rivers, is c.25 mi (40 km) wide and extends more than 60 mi (100 km) from west to east in a series of parallel ranges 5,000 to 6,000 ft (1,520–1,830 m) above sea level. Major cities of the Rand are Johannesburg, Benoni, Boksburg, Springs, and Germiston.
The Rand is one of the world's richest gold-mining regions. The gold occurs in reefs, or thin bands, that are mined at depths of up to 10,000 ft (3,050 m). Development of the Rand dates from the 1880s. Although many of the older mines are now nearly exhausted, the Rand still produces most of South Africa's gold and much of the total world output. Silver and iridium are recovered as gold-refining byproducts, and the region also has coal mines. The Rand also has such industries as engineering, steel milling, metallurgy, machine building, diamond cutting, food processing, and the manufacture of chemicals, cement, furniture, and clothing.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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