Gold is central to the history of Gauteng and it was only as recently as 1886 that the city of Johannesburg was founded, mainly due to the vast amounts of gold to be found in the area. One of the oldest gold mines in the province, the Kromdraai Gold Mine, is an interesting place to visit for anybody looking to learn more about Gauteng’s gold rush history. Only a 40-minute drive north of Johannesburg, the Kromdraai Gold Mine is located in the scenic Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.
Kromdraai was ahead of the Johannesburg gold rush. A certain Johannes Stephanus Minnaar first discovered gold on a farm here in 1881, although the site was only proclaimed a mine in 1885. At that time there were many mines in the area and Kromdraai was one of the most productive, yielding about 25 grams of gold per ton of ore. Miners back then had to work by candlelight without shoes or helmets. Donkeys were used to pull carts of ore along tracks snaking through the tunnels until they reached the outside.
On a guided tour of the old mine tunnel visitors learn about these old-fashioned methods of mining and can view the remaining evidence of the great amounts of dynamite which were used to blast the tunnels, while walking along the mine’s old ‘coco-pan’ tracks. The mine is entered via a large hole in the side of a hill and the tour lasts one hour, including a fascinating introductory talk by a guide explaining the area’s gold mining history.
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