The Mineral Industry in South Africa

Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 4
Publication Date: Unavailable
R. C. J. Goode (President): South Africa is known for its sunshine and mineral deposits-especially its gold and its diamonds-and as this year marks the 75th Anniversary of the establishment of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, it is appropriate that I say a few words about mining and metallurgy and the part this industry and our Institute has played in the life of this country. Africa, as the Dark Continent, with its fascinating tales of Prester John, Ophir, Queen of Sheba and its myths and legends has throughout the ages fired the public imagination. Pharaoh Necho, 600 years before the birth of Christ, sent an expedition from Egypt around the Cape to probe this strange land. The gold for King Solomon's throne was said to come from Monomotapa-the country now known as Rhodesia. Centuries later the Arabs and Portuguese searched for this mineral wealth. The Arabs found little gold but unfortunately established a lucrative trade in black slaves. Now let us take a brief look into the closing stages of the Stone Age when the indigenous population of the lower portion of this continent consisted of the Bushmen, a nomadic hunting people who knew no metals and kept no stock, and the Hottentots who were a pastoral folk with cattle and sheep. Then somewhere about the 11th century the Bantu started their long migration southwards and brought with them the knowledge of smelting of iron ore. One of their settlements was here in Johannesburg on the Melville Kopje at Emmarentia. These people were the first miners and metallurgists on the Witwatersrand and the beautifully preserved iron smelting furnace constructed nearly 1,000 years ago is a tribute to their technical ability. This ability to use iron to make better spears for hunting or to fashion hoes for cultivating the soil led to their establishment as a superior tribe. The earlier Bushmen were pushed back to the inhospitable swamps and deserts and the Hottentots fled to the south. The Bantu also knew the art of copper smelting. In the days of the Dutch East India Company, at the end of the seventeenth century, Bantu workers brought copper from the north-west Cape to Simon van der Stel, but it was another two hundred years before the white man turned this to advantage. Stories of the Bantu mining gold spurred the early European hunters to travel deeper into the heart of Africa in search of wealth, and we are told that Karel Kruger, in 1834 whilst leading an ivory hunting expedition, discovered gold on the Witwatersrand, and took samples to Cape Town; but when he returned with a larger expedition a few years later his party was attacked by Moselekatze's Matabele near Potchefstroom. Kruger was killed and only the legend survived. The real spur to mining in this country was the discovery of diamonds in Griqualand West in 1867. The field seemed fabulously rich and diggers flocked to the scene from the four corners of the earth. With them came Cecil Rhodes, Barnato, Beit and some of the finest mining and financial brains the country had yet seen. These giant entrepreneurs were not tempted by the small deposits of gold in the Barberton and Pilgrim's Rest areas when these were made a few years later but
Full Article Download:
(508 kb)