Mines of Malolotja
Ngwenya Mountain has the world's oldest known mine, the Lion Cavern, where, around 41 000 BC, haematite and specularite were mined for cosmetic and ritual uses. This ancient mine is located next to the modern open cast iron ore mine, where production ceased in 1978. The old Forbes Reef Gold Mine is located in the Forbes Reef forest. Here a hundred years ago, within a twenty year period, all workable gold was extracted from the gold bearing quartzities, and Forbes Reef settlement became a ghost town.
Malolotja Nature Reserve, with its fascinating geology is home to a number of old mines, which to anyone interested in the history of Swaziland are well worth a visit. Gold is concentrated in the rocks of the Swaziland Supergroup in a belt of country extending along the north western margin of Swaziland from Ngwenya to Horo. It is an area of complex geology with extensive folding, overfolding and shearing. Within the reserve the gold mines are found on the south eastern border, at Forbes Reef and at the top of the Malolotja valley. The Ngwenya mountain massif, lying on the western border of Swaziland, contains deposits of high grade iron ore, which have been worked for the past 50 000 years. The mountain stretches along the western border of Malolotja for about 10 kms. Here can be seen the ancient Lion Cavern as well as the modern open cast mine.
There is slight evidence that some tin mining has taken place in the reserve. Two miles west of the granite contact which occurs at the Forbes Main reef and one mile west of the gold deposits, two interesting occurrences of casserite have been noted. A small amount of trenching and investigation has been carried out although no records on them can be found. Local people living in the area also speak of the old tin mines.
Jan 4, 1930. The SA Mining and Engineering Journal. pp 497-498
Dec 28, 1929. The SA Mining and Engineering Journal. pp 65-467
Feb 1988, John R Masson. Mining at Ngwenya - both Ancient and Modern, Causes and Effect.
Jan 1975, M.C.G. Clarke. Notes on Gold in Swaziland Report No M.C.G.C/1/75
Undated, D.H.R. Sims. A Historical Review of the Swaziland Gold Mining Industry. Bulletin No 9 of the Geological Survey and Mines department.
1982, Lyall Watson. Lightening Bird. Hodder and Stoughton Ltd.
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