Sycamore Mining Ltd. is an international mining company engaged in the acquisition, exploration, development, financing and mining of precious and base metal properties. Our current operations are in Guinea and Swaziland.
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The reopening of the Lufafa gold mine, near Piggs Peak, at the beginning of 2016 has been succeeded by the recent award of a ten-year mining lease to rehabilitate the gold-bearing asbestos tailings of the historic Havelock mine in what is today the town of Bulembu, on the border of Swaziland and South Africa.
The new lease, awarded to Kobolondo Mining, allows for the construction of a large gold treatment plant at Bulembu, which will not only treat the old Havelock tailings but also have enough capacity to treat tailings and ores from other operations that may be reopened along the north-eastern auriferous rim of Swaziland. Thus, once operational, it is anticipated that this facility, which will act in much the same fashion as the Eastern Transvaal Consolidated Mines gold mine tailings retreatment plant, near Barberton, will facilitate the further growth of the sector by encouraging the reopening of the long-abandoned gold mines, many of which were compelled to close because of processing challenges.
While Swaziland is known to have the oldest mining industry in the world, with the hematite operation at Lion Cavern dating back more than 41 000 years, exactly when and by whom gold was first found and mined remains a complete mystery. Having said that, the metal most certainly would have been exploited in the precolonial era, either for personal use or trading purposes, as was the case in the rest of Southern Africa. The metal was rediscovered, or discovered under the colonial tradition, in the late 1870s, with the first recorded attempts to mine the metal being made in the early 1880s.
It will come as little surprise to learn that the man who is credited with discovering gold in Swaziland was one of the stalwarts of the old Eastern Transvaal gold rushes of the 1870s. Tom McLachlan was among the most renowned of South Africas gold prospectors. He was involved in the finding of gold on the Eersteling farm and also discovered gold at Spitzkop and Geelhoutboom, which kick-started the MacMac gold rush and led to the founding of Pilgrims Rest, and in the Kaap Valley, which today incorporates the gold mining town of Barberton.
By the end of the 1870s, McLachlan had become tired of the gold frenzy that still gripped the New Caledonia goldfield area and, together with his fellow digger, Walter Carter, decided to seek quieter environs within which to fossick for new gold deposits.
The pair made their way south across the great mountain range known as the Makonjwa also known as the Barberton Greenstone Belt, a name that reflects the belief that, by pointing at exposed peaks, rain is induced and settled near the top of the Phophanyane Falls of the great Komati river. Little did they know it, but they had settled amid the oldest exposed rock mass on earth. Being highly mineralised, particularly with the auriferous metal, the pair soon found many traces of gold and exposed gold-bearing quartz veins.
That discovery could not have been made at a more opportune time, for it coincided with the succession of King Mbandzeni in 1879. Mbandzenis reign is largely regarded as the Era of the Concessionaires. By Swazi custom, all land was, and still is, the common property of the people, which is held in trust for them and allocated under the authority of the king and his chiefs. Thus, in order to use the land or mine any commodities, it has always been necessary to get a concession, or lease, for such an activity from the Swazi monarch. Although Mbandzeni was not the first to issue leases or concessions, he awarded such a staggering number of concessions to Boer graziers and British traders and miners during his reign (18791889) that Swazi people now regard that time as the paper conquest of Swaziland.
Having settled just a few kilometres north of Mbandzenis residence, McLachlan made it his business to be acquainted with the newly installed king and win his favour. Given the number of concessions granted, this was not difficult and, in May 1880, McLachlan and his partner were granted the first gold mining concession, giving them exclusive right to prospect and mine in the Swazi territory north of the Khomati river. While the pair found many economically viable gold deposits in their concession area, McLachlan, who was now in his seventies, soon decided to retire and return to his native country of Scotland. Shortly thereafter, new concessions were awarded, which led to the establishment of the famous Piggs Peak and Horo gold mines.
News of McLachlans latest discoveries spread far and wide and served to lure more prospectors and concession hunters to the kingdom. Among them were the brothers James and David Forbes, whose names still lingers on in Swazilands mining industry. The Forbes brothers won the concession to prospect all the land south of the Khomati and, in 1883, they discovered what became known as the Forbes Reef Series, which has proved to be the countrys richest and most productive gold-bearing series. The second-most productive mining area, the Main Reef, was discovered at roughly the same time by Alec Forbes and Charles Swears.
While these areas are all highly auriferous, the reefs have seldom proved uniform and consistent, and neither has the gold content been easily extractable. Thus, the fortunes of Swazilands gold mining industry have been mixed and sporadic, in much the same manner as the broader regions gold industry.
Record keeping was not the early concessionaires forte; thus, it is not known for certain how much gold has actually been mined. However, from the 12 gold mines that are known to have been worked since the early 1880s, the Swaziland Geological Survey and Mines Department estimate that some 250 000 ounces have been won.
Edited by: Martin ZhuwakinyuCreamer Media Senior Deputy Editor EMAIL THIS ARTICLE SAVE THIS ARTICLE ARTICLE ENQUIRY To subscribe email [email protected] or click here To advertise email [email protected] or click here
Swaziland, with a total population of 1,386,914 as of July 2012, is located in the southern part of Africa, between Mozambique and South Africa. Swaziland covers a total area of 17,364 km2 and has tropical and temperate climates. The countrys GDP per capita is $5,400 as of 2011.
Swaziland gained its independence in 1968, and is now totally dependent on South Africa for its exports and imports, worker remittances and customs duties from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).
Swazilands natural resources include coal, asbestos, diamond and gold deposits, talc and quarry stones. The countrys mining activities have declined in the recent years, though quarry stone and coal mines remained active. Swaziland is keen on drawing foreign investments and increasing the number of medium and small enterprises.
Swazilands chief economically beneficial minerals include silica, gold, diamond, kaolin and coal. Tin, copper, arsenic, manganese and nickel are present, but are not often mined as they are regarded as uneconomical due to their low quality or availability in small deposits.
In 2010, Swazilands only official mine was the Maloma Mine. Following the decline in the mining sector, the countrys mineral industry also failed to contribute much to Swazilands gross domestic product.
The Swaziland Investment Promotions Authority had planned to open a joint venture with the government as part of the talc project. This talc project is located in Forbes Reef, which is suitable for open pit mining. Talc mining in the country attracts foreign investments and provides job opportunities.
Chrysolite fiber asbestos was mined in Bulumbe, one of the largest asbestos mines in the world. This mining operation that generated good revenues ceased due to weak markets, environmental issues and declining reserves.
Iron ore mining in Swaziland is of great significance as it led to the development of the countrys modern industrial phase that included the development of a rail and road infrastructure. This development improved the countrys import and export trade in a cost-effective manner. Nearly 77,500 tons of iron ore from Swaziland was shipped to Japan, the countrys chief ore market. Swazilands Ngwenya Mine is known for its iron ore deposits that are globally considered as one of the oldest geological formations. This mine is also the site where the very first mining activity in the world was carried out.
The production of gold in Swaziland was never a continuous activity, but after the Boer war, extraction of gold took place in a small scale and on a regular basis. Of all the gold mines in Swaziland, Forbes Main Reef is the most productive mine in Malolotja and the second most productive mine in Swaziland. In 2001, small scale and illegal gold mining was reported in Swaziland.
Swazilands economy has been declining tremendously in recent times as several mining companies have ceased their operations and a number of coal miners have been complaining about the lack of proper railway lines in the mining regions.
To boost the countrys ailing economy, the government has planned to improve its coal exporting potential. As part of the plan, a new railway line will be constructed in mid-2013. The 146 km long railway line will start from the coal-rich regions of Mpumalanga to Swaziland, and will have the capacity to export an additional 15-million tons a year.
With this new development, Swaziland hopes to improve its revenue through coal exports. However, the future of the countrys mining sector is uncertain and experts feel that it will need to focus a lot more on mineral exploration.
Disclaimer: The Author of this article does not imply any investment recommendation and some content is speculative in nature. The Author is not affiliated in any way with any companies mentioned and all statistical information is publically available.
Gary graduated from the University of Manchester with a first-class honours degree in Geochemistry and a Masters in Earth Sciences. After working in the Australian mining industry, Gary decided to hang up his geology boots and turn his hand to writing. When he isn't developing topical and informative content, Gary can usually be found playing his beloved guitar, or watching Aston Villa FC snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
I liked the article.It was informative and clammy stated the status of Swaziland, Africa.Who's is the souls status of is people and are the companies that are doing business there and pulling out resources reinvesting back into the Country's social, economic, and industrial infrastructure.
Stefanutti Stocks Mining Services provides mining clients across Southern Africa with professional engineering services in the fields of open cast contract mining, bulk material handling and waste residue disposal and recovery facilities. Our services include the provision of professional personnel staff, plant and equipment as well as a wide range of associated design capabilities.
Our skilled team of engineers, designers and support staff are based at the our groups head office in Johannesburg. Our operational teams are based at mining operations across the country including Gauteng, Northern Cape, Mpumulanga, North West, KwaZulu Natal and Limpopo provinces.
Our divisions include Contract Mining, Material Handling, Tailings Operations and Technical Services. We combine the capabilities of these four divisions to offer clients across the mining sector a comprehensive turnkey solution. Our turnkey mining services portfolio includes the establishment of fit-for-purpose mining solutions from initiation, through implementation to operations and closure. This one-stop shop solution includes feasibility, detail design, fabrication, construction and commissioning of all the necessary mine infrastructure; pollution control features and beneficiation plants; material handling, open pit mine design and planning, contract mining and operational management of mining activities.