Kuruman: 10 June 2012

Though located in the middle of the Kalahari on the Ghaap Plateau, Kuruman is a thriving mining community in the Northern Cape Province, and was an important missionary post in the early 1800’s. The Scottish missionary Robert Moffat lived here from 1820-1870, and printed the first bible in Africa. Today the mines in the region produce manganese, iron ore, tiger’s eye, and asbestos, and signs of the importance of the mining industry are everywhere.

Wow! we want one of THOSE for next year’s field season!

We drove an approximately 275-km route via Kuruman – Danielskuil – Postmasburg – Kathu and back to Kuruman intending to locate some of the historic lime mines in our database. Frustratingly, we encountered fenced-off fields, locked farm gates and roads-to-nowhere.

The road to nowhere…

Geologically, the hills in this area are predominated by banded iron formations (or BIFs) which is the source of the iron ore in the region – and we saw many iron mines on our drive – but almost no dolomite, and no lime mines at all! The BIF overlays the carbonate platform (our dolomites!), and we did encounter massive slabs of bedrock dolomite along some of the dirt roads in lower-lying areas.

BIFs in the distance; dolomite in the valley floor

We also visited Wonderwerk Cave, which is an archaeological site occupying a massive solution cave in the dolomites – so all hope is not lost. Our next step is to visit the municipal lands office in Kuruman for contact information about the farms on which the historic lime mines are located.

-KL Kuykendall

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