JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s mineral resources minister says the country has suspended applications for new mineral prospecting because of concerns the current process has been hurt by corruption.

Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu on Tuesday said a six-month moratorium on prospecting would take effect Sept. 1. She says the period will be used to audit existing licenses for mining new minerals.

South Africa is ranked as one of the top 31 mineral producers globally, Shabangu said. It has diverse mineral resources and among the deepest gold mines in the world. But there are concerns over unsafe mine shafts.