Early gold prospectors

ZIMSEC O Level History Notes: South Africa 1867 – 1910: The Discovery of Gold

  • Gold was discovered in 1884 in the Witwatersrand area but was under utilized
  • It was discovered by Jan Gerrit Bantjes on a farm called Vogelstruisfontein in June 1884 and then by the Struben brothers who discovered the Confidence Reef on Wilgespruit farm
  • Gold transformed the lives of the Southern African residents and it had been argued that if it had not been discovered, the fate of Southern might have been different
  • Large deposits were later discovered in Griqualand West
  • The Witwatersrand has larger gold deposits than any other field ever
  • The discovery of gold changed South African economy to from agriculture to mining and it became the world’s largest gold producer
  • Gold increased trade relations of South Africa with other countries
  • First gold mining expedition quickly ended because the gold could no longer be dug by a pick and shovel as it was now located further from the surface
  • Fortune hunters began to flock to South Africa with two settling at a farm called Langlaagte in 1886
  • Consolidation was the best available option, and instead of complete consolidation, miners joined into several groups and began mining the gold
  • Co-operation with other groups was then a necessity so as to influence the government and wages paid in the mining sector
  • Almost all groups joined the Chamber of Mines by the early 1890s to speak with one voice

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