Johannesburg/Witwatersrand Gold History tour:
Ekala Eco Tours can condense some of the Gold history of Johannesburg into a day tour, however to cover the items in a more comprehensive way, does required 3 days.
Johannesburg Gold History Tour.
Johannesburg gold rush route Johannesburg – the gold capital of the world. The Witwatersrand ‘ridge of white waters’ the richest gold area/reef in the world. An enormously valuable gold reef, most buried below the surface.
Johannesburg - Major world city - founded in a waterless, treeless, barren dust bowl of Randjeslaagte and became known as the Rand//Witwatersrand.
Ekala Eco Tours cover and go into 3 historical gold mines and visit one of the earliest Johannesburg mine stopes, perfectly preserved.
Currently, no operational gold mine supplies tours or even allows access to the mine property by the general public. The only option for an operational mine underground tour is the Cullinan diamond mine.
Collection and drop off O. R. Tambo airport or any other point in Gauteng - Johannesburg or Pretoria.
First gold found in the Witwatersrand/Johannesburg/Rand area was in quartz rock and alluvial gold diggings, however in small quantities only. The main gold reef find of 1886 changed this. The quantities of gold were certainly high; this gold however was different to any gold find anywhere in the world previously. The main source of Johannesburg’s Gold was in a conglomerate formation called "Banket".
Johannesburg grew from nothing into a tented town with a population of several thousand within a matter of weeks of its proclamation in October 1886. Farms situated on the Witwatersrand/Johannesburg proclaimed, as public gold diggings included farms of Driefontein, Elandsfontein, Turffontein, Langlaagte, Roodepoort, Paardekraal, Vogelstruisfontein and southern portion of Doornfontein. Part of the government farm, Randjeslaagte, was also proclaimed as public gold diggings.
The early people in the area, gold prospectors or people caught up in the events:
Johannesburg's first residents with gold in their veins
Brothers Fred and Harry Struben: Owned sections of adjoining farms Sterkfontein and Wilgespruit. They were the most active of the gold prospectors in the area at the time. Discovered a rich in gold quartz vein and named it the Confidence Reef. Founded the Confidence Reef gold mine, running a five-stamp battery in the area. However they made more money crushing other prospectors gold bearing rock and buying shares in new gold mines than gold from the Confidence Reef. Harry served on the firsts Diggers Committee and was elected first president of South African Chamber of Mines.
Archie Edgson: Ran the first store and later a hotel on the Crocodile River, Muldersdrift, and Witwatersrand. Moved to Ferreira's Camp, one of the early gold mines in the area, to open one of the first hotels in Johannesburg.
Paul Kruger: President of the Transvaal Republic. The Transvaal Republic covered the full area of all gold finds at the time.
Gerhardus, Nellie and Petronella Oosthuizen: Farmers and land owners, including portion of the farm Langlaagte where main gold reef was discovered and leading to official proclamation of a gold field on the Witwatersrand.
The 3 George’s - George Harrison, George Walker and George Honeyball. Masons and Carpenters, working in the area for amongst others, the Oosthuizen’s and Struben’s. George Harrison is credited with the find of the main gold reef.
Jan Gerritse Bantjes: Discovered the Bird Reef on the Vogelstruisfontein farm and milled the gold baring ore on the site as Bantjes Gold Mine. Part of the Struben brothers close group of friends during these times.
Siegmund Hammerschlag: Erected the first gold bearing ore-crushing machine, a two-stamp battery on his farm Tweefontein, part of the current Krugersdorp/Mogale City, known today as the West Rand.
Lieutenant R N Lys and Godfrey Lys: Step-nephew to the Struben's. Worked with the Struben brothers.
Fran’s, Louw and Judith Geldenhuys: Found gold at Elandsfontein and established the Geldenhuys Estates Gold Mining Company.
John Henry Davis: Early find of significant quantities of gold on the farm Paardekraal, part of the current Krugersdorp/Mogale City, known as the West Rand.
Pieter J Marais: Found small quantities of gold in the Crocodile and Jukskei Rivers.
Henry Lewis: Discovered an alluvial gold deposit west of Johannesburg, near Krugersdorp/Mogale City.
The places covered on the tour:
An area of over 150 square kilometers
Most towns west or east of Johannesburg came about directly through the mining of the Main Gold Reef, along with the Main Reef Leader. A 120km long gold reef that is seemingly bottomless.
George Harrison Park. Spot were gold reef found and George Harrison’s original gold claim.
Langlaagte Deep Village. One of the earliest remaining gold mining villages, Crown mines, Langlaagte.
Gold Reef City: Only remaining gold mine in the Johannesburg area that has an operational shaft, shaft 14, crown mines (tourists only – not an operational mine) of the hundreds of original shafts along the east west arc of gold bearing rock south of Johannesburg. This gold mine we do take an underground tour to the upper level of the mine. Also witness a gold pour and the brilliant glow of the molten gold and a walk through a mine village.
Worker Museum: A workers compound not directly linked to the gold mines, however identical to those used on mines in early years of mining in Johannesburg and provides insight into way of life.
Ferreira gold Mine Stope: Excellently preserved original stope (entrance to the Ferreira Gold Mine).
Kromdraai Gold Mine: Gold discovered by Johannes Stephanus Minaar and became the first government gold mining concession on the Witwatersrand. This gold mine we do take a tour inside the historical mine.
Benoni: Chimes Gold Mine. Strikers route, Benoni museum and insight into the miner’s strikes.
Johannesburg City Centre: Town Hall, Chamber of Mines, Original Randjeslaagte Beacon, marking the original northern edge of Johannesburg. Main Street, artifacts from the early days of gold mining in Johannesburg plus the offices of BHP Billiton, Anglo platinum, Anglo Gold, Goldfields and Chamber of Mines.
Many of Johannesburg’s streets named after early gold prospecting pioneers
Langlaagte: The current suburbs of Brixton, Mayfair, Fordsburg, Sophiatown.
Museum Africa: Includes exhibitions focusing on Johannesburg’s gold and mining life.
Mary Fitzgerald Square: Mary Fitzgerald, first woman trade unionist and key figure in the 1910 miners strike.
Brixton and Braamfontein Cemeteries: Johannesburg’s fore fathers. Pauper graves and graves of the 1922 Rand Revolt.
West Rand: including three Anglo gold/Anglo Ashanti operations including Savuka, TauTona and Mponeng gold mine, currently the deepest and richest gold mine in the world. Formerly the western deep levels south shaft, located on the north western rim of the Witwatersrand basin.
ERPM (East Rand Proprietary Mines): Combination of outcrop and deep level mining by the Farrar-Anglo French group. Sev mine, Cason mine shaft, Angelo deep shaft and the Broomfield gold mining village. Including the areas of Boksburg, Benoni, and Brakpan.
Boksburg: Leeuwpoort once a farm with several of the richest and deepest gold mines in the world.
Brakpan: Flourished with coal and gold mines for over 50 years.
Germiston: Elandsfontein and Simmer and Jack gold Mine museum.
Rand Refinery, largest gold refinery since 1922 and refining all South African gold. Supplied the gold blanks for minting of the Kruger Rand's.
Randfontein: Randfontein Estates Gold Mining Company and Robinson Lake.
Roodepoort: Vogelstruisfontein, Paardekraal and Wilgespruit, the first gold mine on the edge of the Witwatersrand. Steam engine and original gold bearing ore-crushing machine, a five stamp battery of the Struben Confidence gold mine. Delarey House, Old Municipal Offices, Roodepoort Cultural History Museum and the Town School, one of the oldest buildings in Roodepoort. Vlakfontein Monument, commemorating the Jameson Raid.
Springs: Once the largest single gold producing area in the world and the original fuel source (Coal) supplier for the gold mining industry.
Krugersdorp: West Rand Consolidated Mine Ferreirasdorp: The oldest gold mining camp in Johannesburg
Modderfontein: Oldest industrial area and site of the original Johannesburg Dynamite company. Johannesburg quickly became the biggest dynamite user in the world. Also visit the Modderfontein dynamite village.
Magaliesberg: Blaauwbank Gold Mine: Historic Gold Mine strongly connected with James Jennings and first mined in 1874 after Henry Lewis found quartzite gold in the area. First official gold mining company in South Africa and established the “Nil Desperandum Co-operative Quartz Company” and later amalgamated into the Blaauwbank United Gold Mines Co. Ltd. See how early gold miners worked the gold bearing ore and view original mining equipment. This gold mine we do take a tour inside the historical mine.
Crown Mines: Current site for the reprocessing of old mine dumps to recover remaining gold.
The defining moments covered on the gold tour:
Gold, War and people trying to protect their livelihood as gold miners.
Main gold reef find of 1886 Anglo Boer war of 1899 – 1902 with the British eager to take control of Johannesburg/Witwatersrand and the gold mines.
Miners strikes of 1910/1913/1946/1987
Rand revolt - 1922 - When war came to Johannesburg's streets and changed the course of South Africa’s history. 22000 gold and coal miners in open revolt against the State. Martial law with bombs and shells raining down on Johannesburg suburbs of Fordsburg, Jeppe, Brixton, Ferreirastown and Vrededorp.
The Gold Landscape viewed on the tour:
The Greater Johannesburg Highveld, a fragmented landscape of gold mine shafts, head gears, dams, blue gum forests and strangely shaped mountains, Johannesburg's distinctive mine dumps, spread across the south of Johannesburg, from the West to the East. At the base of these mine dumps, lie the slimes dams, manmade lakes created by water pumped from the gold mines.
The deepest gold mines in the world - approximately 4000 metres below the surface.
In Johannesburg’s early days, it was more the individual who became famous. It was not long after that these prospectors were replaced with entrepreneurs with vast financial resources.
Today it is giant gold mining houses. BHP Billiton, Anglo platinum, Anglo Gold and Goldfields that form the major part of the gold mining corporations of South Africa.
Most of today’s profitable gold mines are in the west of Johannesburg, in the area of Carletonville. Gold Mines of Savuka, TauTona and Mponeng that make up the most technically advance mines in the world and currently the deepest and richest gold mines in the world.
The gold bearing reef layers are known as the Main Reef - Main Reef Leader - South Reef and were collectively called the Main Reef Group of Conglomerates. For over 90 years over a third of the world’s gold came from these reefs, also the world’s primary source of uranium.
South Africa has become a world leader in gold mining technology and deep level gold mining.
Environmental mining issues of today covered on the gold tour:
Acid Mine Drainage - the implication and the damage.
Waste from gold mines, including the Western Basin, Eastern Basin and Central Witwatersrand mining basin. Constituting the largest source of pollution in South Africa. Hazards of acid mine drainage, from historical and current gold mining. Decanting of flooded gold mines - surface and ground water pollution - degradation of the soil Dust pollution - radioactivity - Heavy metals in water supply.
Mining induced earthquakes, rock bursts and the formation of sinkholes. Arsenic, cyanide and other hazardous substances including Radon gas emanating from the gold mine dumps, abandoned gold mines and slimes dams.
Other items we cover in the tour:
Gold mine labour unions - indentured labour and areas of extreme wealth.
160 square kilometers of Johannesburg and surrounding areas. Covering over 130 years of gold history. Gold Mine tailings reprocessing using sophisticated methods to remove the minutest traces of gold. Labour requirements for the gold mines. Including the use on Chinese indentured labour and black laborers that left their rural homes to seek employment on the mines. The development of South African mineworker organizations, including the African mineworkers union, the national union of mineworkers and COSATU.
The development of a new social class in Johannesburg. The Johannesburg Randlords or mining magnates, becoming extremely wealthy in a few short years and needed homes befitting their new status. Their extravagant taste is reflected in houses built on the Rand/Johannesburg ridges
Underground Mine Tour Rules: No persons with disabilities, pregnant, or people who suffer from claustrophobia may go on an underground mine tour.
Sorry - Underground operational Gold mine tours are currently unavailable. Operational diamond mine is available - will update if available.
Gold Kruger Rand's
Introduced to the world in 1967, at a time of world sanctions against South Africa. Encouraging private ownership of gold and by 1980 accounted for 90% of the world gold coin market.
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For further information on Gold Mine Tours please contact Ekala Eco Tours.