South Africa has some of the world's biggest reserves of platinum, gold, iron ore and coal.

But mining now makes up less than seven percent of its economic output, a steep fall from 20 percent in the 1970s.

Mining companies are blaming low prices and soaring production costs for their plans to cut thousands of jobs at a time the country is struggling with high unemployment rates.

Mining is also intertwined with race relations in South Africa.

The people who work deep underground in often dangerous conditions are overwhelmingly black, while the executives overseeing them are mainly white.

Some of the firms have pushed back against government plans to make them bring on more black shareholders.

So, is it a losing battle for the mining sector? And can South Africa move away from its dependence on commodities?

Presenter: Mohammed Jamjoom

Guests:

Lebohang Pheko - Senior research fellow at Trade Collective

Moleko Phakedi - Deputy general secretary at South African Federation of Trade Unions

Ralph Mathekga - Researcher and lecturer at the University of the Western Cape

Source: Al Jazeera News