Archive | Global Mining History

10 Gold Rushes You Should Know About – by Brandon Christensen (Real Clear History – July 12, 2018)

https://www.realclearhistory.com/

Gold! Gold! Gold! What is it about this precious metal that causes such a rush among human beings? Throughout history, the discovery of gold veins has sparked mass movements of people and capital to hitherto unknown parts of the world. Gold rushes have been documented as far back as ancient Rome, but most of the major gold rushes occurred during the modern era, which runs roughly from 1500 AD to the present.

The most famous gold rush in American history is the California Gold Rush of 1849, (RealClearHistory covered it recently), but the history of gold rushes deserves a bit more scrutiny. Why on earth would a precious metal cause so much upheaval in population transfers, in spending on infrastructure, and on violence and property rights adjudication? Here are 10 gold rushes in history that deserve more attention:

10. Klondike Gold Rush (1896-99), Yukon Territory, Canada. Let’s start with Canada’s most famous gold rush. While gold was discovered in 1896, the Klondike was so hard to reach (the Canadian government required each potential miner to travel with a year’s worth of supplies before embarking on the journey) that the gold rush didn’t really get going until 1898. Continue Reading →

CZECHS, GERMANS HOPE TO WIN UNESCO LISTING FOR KRUŠNÉ HORY–ERZGEBIRGE MINING SITES – by Brian Kenety (Radio Praha – July 2019)

https://www.radio.cz/en/

The Ore Mountains have formed a natural border between Bohemia and the German state of Saxony for some 800 years. Known in Czech as Krušné hory, the uniquely preserved landscape is also among the most heavily researched mountain ranges in the world.

In total, the Czech delegation to Azerbaijan has nominated five sites in this country for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. A German delegation, with which it submitted a joint bid, has nominated 17 sites on their side of the border.

Michal Urban of the non-profit Montanregion Krušné hory – Erzgebirge, formed to coordinate public and private regional groups in hopes of getting the listing explains how it would help the region. Continue Reading →

Mineweb: Anglo American through the ages – by Ciaran Ryan (Money Web.com – June 13, 2019)

https://www.moneyweb.co.za/

It launched South Africa’s industrial age to support its mining activities, but since 2012 has halved the number of its assets. Where to now?

When the EFF’s Julius Malema talks of white minority capital, he is referring of course to Johann Rupert and the Oppenheimers for the most part. These are the families that helped build South Africa and, for better or worse, guided its political discourse in a direction favourable to their business interests.

Anglo American founder Ernest Oppenheimer would be hard put to recognise the group he founded in 1917. By the 1980s it accounted for a staggering 25% of SA’s GDP and owned an estimated 60% of the JSE – the result of an international embargo that forced SA companies to reinvest profits locally, turning the JSE into an incestuous and distended bubble.

The group that built its castle on diamonds and gold in southern Africa is now a very different animal. Since 2012, it has halved its number of assets, but now delivers 30% more product from each retained asset. Continue Reading →

Digging up Broken Hill’s mining and union history which tells of life and death underground – by Gayle Ball (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – April 25, 2019)

https://www.abc.net.au/

For mine workers in Broken Hill buried in the city’s cemetery, “accidentally killed” was an all-too-frequent epitaph. The headstones at Broken Hill’s cemetery tell the story not only of the city’s colourful history, but the progression of workers’ rights.

Broken Hill’s union movement is widely celebrated as playing a pivotal role in securing better working conditions, as well as the eight-hour working day.

Local historian Christine Adams led a tour during this year’s Broken Hill Heritage Festival focusing on graves which highlighted the city’s union and mining past. More than 800 men were killed on silver, lead and zinc mines in the city. Continue Reading →

Electric cars can clean up the mining industry – here’s how – by Elsa Dominish and Nick Florin (The Conversation – April 16, 2019)

https://theconversation.com/

Growing demand for electric vehicles is important to help cut transport emissions, but it will also lead to new mining. Without a careful approach, we could create new environmental damage while trying to solve an environmental problem.

Like solar panels, wind turbines and battery storage technologies, electric vehicles require a complex mix of metals, many of which have only been previously mined in small amounts.

These include cobalt, nickel and lithium for batteries used for electric vehicles and storage; rare earth metals for permanent magnets in electric vehicles and some wind turbines; and silver for solar panels. Continue Reading →

Every year on ‘Día Del Mar,’ Bolivia celebrates the coastline they lost – by Chantelle Bacigalupo (PRI.org – March 22, 2019)

https://www.pri.org/

This year marks the 140th year that “Día Del Mar” or “National Day of the Sea” is celebrated in Bolivia.

Yes, Bolivia is one of two landlocked countries in South America, but every year on March 23, this holiday remembers the “historical injustice” of the 250-mile Pacific coast that Bolivia lost to Chile in the War of the Pacific. It’s a day where the whole country rallies together to remember its determination to reclaim access to the Pacific Ocean once again.

To understand the origins of the holiday, it’s important to note the complex history of the coast. The 250 mile-coast along the Pacific was a great economic advantage for Bolivia since it possessed the natural resources of saltpeter and guano, a source of nitrates used in explosives and fertilizers until the early 1900s. However, the country’s sights were set on the mining business as its sole means of economic growth before the war.

In fact, Rafael Puentes, the author of “Recuperando la Memoria: Una Historia Crítica de Bolivia,” explains that the birth of the country itself is credited to the tremendous mining wealth found in Potosí, Bolivia. Continue Reading →

HARRY OPPENHEIMER: 110 YEARS AGO, A LEGEND WAS BORN – by Iris Hortman (Israeli Diamond Industry – December 30, 2018)

Israeli Diamond Industry

More than anyone else, Oppenheimer is responsible for associating diamonds with romantic love

Harry Frederick Oppenheimer (1908-2000), born 110 years ago in South Africa, was one of the most prominent figures in the global diamond industry; more than anyone else, Oppenheimer is responsible for associating diamonds with romantic love, and the transformation of diamonds into a symbol of marriage.

Harry was the son of Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, founder of the multinational mining company Anglo American Corporation of South Africa, which took over De Beers after WWI. In 1929, Ernest Oppenheimer became Chairman of De Beers. Over the years his son took over, and under his leadership De Beers became a global leader in diamond mining.

Diamonds are Forever

More than anything else, Harry Oppenheimer is remembered for his contribution to the promotion and marketing of polished diamonds. In the mid-1930s, he persuaded his father and the company that they should advertise their polished stones – an innovative suggestion that was initially met with opposition. While some argued that advertising would degrade the image of diamonds, young Oppenheimer initiated a revolutionary marketing concept: Diamonds as a symbol of romantic love. Continue Reading →

The father of modern geology – by Kylie Williams (CIM Magazine – November 26, 2018)

http://magazine.cim.org/en/

James Hutton, a failed lawyer and doctor, was the first person to suggest that Earth was millions, rather than thousands, of years old and established geology as a true science

Looking back, James Hutton was in the right place at precisely the right time. Hutton was born in 1726, the son of a prosperous merchant and city officeholder in Edinburgh, just a few years before the Scottish capital became a “hotbed of genius” as the epicentre of the Scottish Enlightenment between 1730 and 1820. The environment was primed for big ideas, and Hutton’s concept of uniformitarianism shaped an entire scientific discipline.

Hutton’s big idea was that the earth is millions of years old rather than 6,000 years old, which was based on the literal interpretation of the Bible commonly accepted at the time. His theory of uniformitarianism proposed that rocks and landforms observed at the Earth’s surface today record evidence of past changes and are the result of uniform processes acting over long periods of time.

Hutton’s idea challenged the belief that the natural world was static and unchanging, and disrupted the fundamental principle of geology, but it was not easy to convince others and he did not become known as the Father of Modern Geology until well after his death in 1797. Continue Reading →

Coal queen Rita and the lost world of the ‘Pit Brow Lasses’ (Manchester Evening News – December 1, 2018)

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/

Rita Culshaw has lost none of the speed in her nimble fingers. Today they are zipping around the screen of her tablet computer as she keeps in touch with relatives and researches local history.

But turn the clocks back seven decades and the dexterous digits are working away at one of Wigan borough’s many coal mines. As a pit brow lass – pronounced ‘pit brew’ if you’re from Wigan – it was her responsibility to pick the dirt and stones from freshly mined coal. Kitted out in clogs, shawls and head-scarves, Rita and colleagues formed a coal cleaning production line, building a camaraderie forged through silent communication during shifts.

Now referred to as unsung heroines of the collieries, their contribution to the borough and its rich mining heritage – in addition to being heralded as pioneers for gender equality – has been marked this month by the local authority. Continue Reading →

Why ‘pit brow lasses’ were coal mining’s unsung heroines – by Helen Pidd (The Guardian – October 14, 2018)

https://www.theguardian.com/

It is thought of as the ultimate man’s world, a sooty-faced fraternity deep under ground. But it is a little-known fact that many women also worked in Britain’s coal mines, doing crucial jobs to keep the collieries in operation.

The role of “tip girls” or “pit brow lasses” in the coal industry has largely gone unnoticed in history books, with women portrayed as wives or mothers, sitting at home.

A new exhibition at the Mining Art Gallery in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, challenges this long-accepted view. Breaking Ground: Women of the Northern Coal Fields tells the stories of women in the 19th -century mining industry via paintings and archive material, proving they did far more than wash their husbands’ sooty overalls. Continue Reading →

No shoes or high vis: Dampier’s old boys recall laidback life in remote Pilbara port town – by Kendall O’Connor (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – September 23, 2018)

http://www.abc.net.au/

When Pauline Hill’s husband read about a job going in remote Western Australia offering double his current wage, they thought it was too good an opportunity to pass up. “He was reading the Advertiser one day and saw a job advertised for Hamersley Iron, which we didn’t know anything about,” she said.

They planned to stay in the mystery town for two years, but ended up living there for 14 years. “We just loved it,” she said. Thirty-seven years later, Mrs Hill has returned to the Pilbara port town for the second annual reunion of people who lived in the town between the 1960s and 80s.

The idea for the Old Boys Reunion came from Dave Randle, who now lives on the Gold Coast. “I went to a Pilbara reunion down in Perth and I just felt that it wasn’t the right place for it,” he said. Continue Reading →

History of mining: Five of the oldest mines still in operation – by Talal Husseini (Mining Technology – September 20, 2018)

https://www.mining-technology.com/

While mining is nothing new, with archeologists finding evidence that the history of mining goes back to the ancient world, it is rare these days to find mines that have continued to produce on a commercial scale. Here are some of the oldest mines still in operation.

Khewra salt mine

Dating back as far as the era of Alexander the Great, Khewra is considered the oldest salt mine in the history of mining and second largest salt deposit in the world. The story of its discovery, according to The Times, goes back to circa 320BC, when some of Alexander’s troops stationed in what is now the Punjab Region of Pakistan found their horses licking the stone ground. Out of curiosity, the soldiers copied their equestrian friends, noticing that it tasted rather salty.

Mining salt as a trading commodity did not commence until the Mughal era in the 16th century, and it wasn’t until 1872 that the main tunnel was developed by British mining engineer Dr H Warth, on behalf of the British colonial powers. During the early years of British rule, the salt mine churned out around 28,000t to 30,000t per year of salt. Continue Reading →

Russian revelation behind nickel boom – by Neil Watkinson (Kalgoorlie Miner – August 10, 2018)

https://thewest.com.au

Legendary mining scientist Roy Woodall used his Kalgoorlie-Boulder Walk of Fame plaque unveiling yesterday to tell the story of how “secret Russian technology” smuggled into Australia helped him discover the Goldfields’ rich nickel deposits.

Dr Woodall told the crowd assembled in blustery conditions outside the Palace Hotel on Hannan Street about how Western Mining Corporation was struggling with its exploration of the Kambalda area in the mid-1960s.

He said he had encountered an immigrant from communist-controlled Yugoslavia, who knew little English but still wanted a job, so he employed the man. Dr Woodall said he discovered the man was a geophysicist, and could get his hands on an induced-polarisation system used behind the Iron Curtain which was not available in the West. Continue Reading →

How gold rushes helped make the modern world – by Benjamin Wilson Mountford and Stephen Tuffnell (The Conversation – April 3, 2018)

https://theconversation.com/

This year is the 170th anniversary of one of the most significant events in world history: the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California. On January 24, 1848, while inspecting a mill race for his employer John Sutter, James Marshall glimpsed something glimmering in the cold winter water. “Boys,” he announced, brandishing a nugget to his fellow workers, “I believe I have found a gold mine!”

Marshall had pulled the starting trigger on a global rush that set the world in motion. The impact was sudden – and dramatic. In 1848 California’s non-Indian population was around 14,000; it soared to almost 100,000 by the end of 1849, and to 300,000 by the end of 1853.

Some of these people now stare back at us enigmatically through daguerreotypes and tintypes. From Mexico and the Hawaiian Islands; from South and Central America; from Australia and New Zealand; from Southeastern China; from Western and Eastern Europe, arrivals made their way to the golden state. Continue Reading →

The Untold Story of FDR and the Battle Over Gold – by Sebastian Edwards (Bloomberg News – May 22, 2018)

https://www.bloomberg.com/

First of four excerpts from “American Default,” on one of the strangest and most enduring chapters of the Roosevelt era.

During the second half of 1933, George F. Warren was the most influential economist in the world. Almost every morning during November and December, he met with Franklin Roosevelt while the president was still in bed, and helped him decide the price at which the government would buy gold during the next 24 hours.

Henry Morgenthau Jr., who often attended these meetings, confided to his diary that the process had a cabalistic dimension to it. In selecting the daily price, FDR would, jokingly, consider the meaning of numbers, or flip coins.

On one occasion, he decided that the price would go up by 21 cents with respect to the previous day. He then asked the group assembled around his bed if they knew why he had chosen that figure. Continue Reading →