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Taking place on: 30 August 2014
The Witwatersrand gold rush of the late 19th century is well documented. It is, however, a little known fact that during the same time period there was also a rush to prospect and peg claims for silver bearing deposits of lead and copper in the greater Pretoria region. A journalist in 1889 described it as the ‘Pretoria Silver Belt.’ There were approximately twenty-five active mining ventures around Pretoria in the 1890s; some were more successful than others. They attracted the attention of many of the gold Randlords and became additional investment areas for their venture capital. After the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902, new speculators took an interest in many of the old mines although by the outbreak of the First World War, in 1914, all mining had ceased. In 1919, General Mining Corporation de-watered the most successful of all of the mines dating from the 1890s – the ‘Argent mines’, which are situated approximately 40 km east of Springs. They restructured and re-equipped the surface operation and deepened the largest of the mines at Argent. In 1928 the mines closed for a second time due to the falling price of silver. The mines of the area were to see a further resurgence of interest in the 1950s and 1970s when a consortium of three mining companies – Goldfields, Anglo American and General Mining re-prospected and reopened some of the mines.
The tour will start at the site of the 1890s reduction works and prospecting trenches then progress to the main shaft. Then we will visit the boiler house and progress to the various crushing and ore bin stations to the site of the 1920s tube mills, concentrating plant and reduction smelting plant. On the way you will see the waste rock dump, slimes dams and the slag dump. The processes used in the 1890s and 1920s will be explained along with details of the unique mineralogy of the silver mine. The tour will last about 4 – 4,5 hours, collecting of specimens will be possible. Bring own hammers and bag. Wear strong shoes or boots.
The tour will present the history, reduction process and mineralogy of the Argent mine. Ultimately, through its 114 years of history, the industry was to produce approximately 93 tons of metallic silver, along with thousands of tons of associated lead, zinc, copper and antimony.
This is a 1 day tour approximately 120km east of Johannesburg. It is highway most of the way JHB- Witbank highway with a 3 km good dirt road at the end to get to the mine site. The area is flat farmland and the walk is about 2 km long around the mine ruins. It takes approximately 1 – 1,3 hours to get to the site from Johannesburg. It will be possible to collect samples of the mineralised slags, which contain some very rare species in micro form. The vein will also be exposed so that it can be seen on the surface and samples collected.
Cost: R 750-00 per person
Min number of participants: 10
Max number of participants: 35
Terms and Conditions:
1. Participation will be confirmed on receipt of payment.
2. Preference will be given to registered IMA delegates and accompanying persons.
4. Cancellations received before 30 June 2014 will receive a full refund less a 10% administration fee.
5. Cancellations received between 1 July and 15 August 2014 will receive a 50% refund.
6. No refunds will be issued to cancellations received after 15 August 2014.
7. Refunds are subject to the approval of and at the discretion of the organising committee.
8. The organising committee reserves the right to cancel or change this tour.