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Free State Economy

Economy of the Free State brought to you by Conference Venues South Africa including Free State's agriculture, industry, mining, tourism

free state economy

The Free State province is the agricultural hub of South Africa, with farming essential to its economy and mining on the rich goldfields reef its largest employer.


Cultivated land covers 32 000 square kilometers of the Free State Province and dominates the landscape. Natural veld and grazing covers an additional 87 000 square kilometres of the province. The Free State is South Africa's leader in the production of biofuels, with ethanol plants being built in the grain-producing western region of the province.

Field crops produce almost two thirds of the gross agricultural income of the Free State province. Animal products provide an additional 30%, with the balance generated by horticulture. Ninety percent of the nation's cherry crop is produced in the Ficksburg district, which is also home to two asparagus canning factories. Sorghum, Soya, wheat and sunflowers are cultivated in the eastern Free State and about 40% of the nation's potato yield comes from the province's high-lying areas.

Most produce leaves the Free State province unprocessed, but horticulture is expanding and becoming increasingly export-orientated. The chief vegetable production in the province is asparagus, both green and white varieties. The Free State province exports about 1.2 million tons of cut flowers a year.


The Free State is rich in mineral wealth, representing 20% of the worlds total gold production. The province has 12 gold mines, producing 30% of South Africa's production.

Gold mines in the Free State provide a substantial portion of the total silver produced in the country and considerable concentrations of uranium occurring in the gold-bearing conglomerates of the goldfields are extracted as a byproduct of gold mining.

Bituminous coal is also mined and converted to petrochemicals at Sasolburg and the Free State produces high-quality diamonds from its kimberlite pipes and fissures.


Free State economy has moved from key sectors such as mining and agriculture to an economy oriented towards manufacturing with 14% of production being classified as high-technology industries. Petrochemicals producer Sasol, is a world leader in the production of chemicals, fuels, low-cost feedstock and waxes from coal, this chemicals sector being one of the most important in the southern hemisphere.


Golden Gate Highlands National Park, nestled in the rolling of the Maluti mountains, is the Free State Province's prime tourist attractions. The name originates from the brilliant shades of gold cast by the sun on the spectacular sandstone cliffs. Brandwag and Sentinel Rock overlooks the park. The little Free State town of Clarens has old sandstone buildings, art galleries, and several Bed and Breakfasts, Hotel and Self catering accommodation.

The sandstone of this region has been used for the beautiful buildings found on the Eastern Highlands, with decoratively painted Sotho houses in the grasslands. You can find Some of South Africa's most valued San rock art in the Free State, particularly in the regions around Bethlehem, Clarens, Ladybrand, Wepener and Ficksburg.


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