The Ngwenya Mine

Timeline

Deposits at Ngwenya were worked at least 42,000 years BP (Before Present).

The peoples concerned belonged to the Middle Stone Age, which flourished in southern Africa for about 100,000 years, until almost 20,000 years ago.

The Ngwenya Mine is estimated to be around 43,000 years old, making it one of the oldest mines known to humans.

The Ngwenya Mine

Ngwenya Mine is situated on the north-western border of Swaziland. Its iron ore deposits constitute one of the oldest geological formations in the world, and also have the distinction of being the site of the world’s earliest mining activity.

Deposits at Ngwenya were worked at least 42,000 years BP (Before Present) for the extraction of red haematite and specularite (sparkling ores). The peoples concerned belonged to the Middle Stone Age, which flourished in southern Africa for about 100,000 years, until almost 20,000 years ago. The red ochre was also used by later peoples. the ancestors of the present San (Bushman) peoples for their rock paintings, of which there are many in Swaziland. The Swazi names of these pigments “libovu” (red ochre) and “ludumane” (sparkling ochre) indicate that exploitation of these minerals extended into historical times.

By about 400AD other, Bantu-speaking, peoples had arrived from north of the Limpopo River. They were agro-pastoralists who also smelted iron ore. They extracted the ore by using extremely heavy iron hammers and traded the iron widely throughout the region.

There is modem open cast mine which was opened in 1964 to mine iron ore. The open cast mine was a catalyst to industrial and economic development for Swaziland. The railway line and the electricity reticulation lines were established because of the open cast mining. The Matsapha Industrial Site area was developed as a direct result of the needs and proceeds of the open cast mining.

On the same site there is a sacred pool that is widely used by the local community. The community believe that the waters form this pool can heal different illness and misfortunes.

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