Jade Davenport

Digging Deep

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Before the advent of the great mineral revolution in the latter half of the 19th century, South Africa was a sleepy colonial backwater whose unpromising landscape was seemingly devoid of any economic potential. Yet lying just beneath the dusty surface of the land lay the richest treasure trove of gold, diamonds, platinum, coal and a host of other metals and minerals that has ever been discovered in one country. It was the discovery and exploitation of first diamonds in 1870 and then gold in 1886 that proved the catalyst to the greatest mineral revolution the world has ever known, which transformed South Africa into the supreme industrialised power on the African continent. Here for the first time is the complete history of South Africa's phenomenal mineral revolution spanning a period of more than 150 years, from its earliest commercial beginnings to the present day, incorporating seven of the major commodities that have been exploited. Digging Deep describes the establishment and unparalleled growth of mining, tracing the history of the industry from its humble beginnings where copper was first mined on a commercial basis in Namaqualand in the Cape Colony in the early 1850s, to the discovery and exploitation of the country's other major mineral commodities. This is also the story of how mining gave rise to modern South Africa and how it compelled the country to develop and progress the way in which it did. It also incorporates the stories of the visionary men – Cecil Rhodes, Alfred Beit, Barney Barnato, Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, Sammy Marks and Hans Merensky – who pioneered and shaped the development of the industry on which modern South Africa was built.
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819 printed pages
Original publication
2013

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