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Location:  Northern Transvaal  (View location on map)

Minerals Worked: Copper

Principal Mines: Artonvilla, Spence, Messina, Harper and the Western Campbell

Background History:

The town of Messina is the most northerly settlement in South Africa and lies 8 km south of the Limpopo River which forms the border to Zimbabwe. The copper deposits in this region were discovered centuries ago by ancient indigenous African tribes. Stone hammers, soapstone artefacts and iron tools have been recovered in the 80 feet deep (water level) and 30 feet wide diggings. Ancient smelting sites are still visible in the high ridges within 20 km of Messina. It was tales of these copper mining activities that lead Lt.-Colonel J.P. Grenfell to explore the area and eventually form a mining company in 1905 to exploit the copper reserves. By 1914 Messina was exporting high-grade matte for refining in South Wales. Between 1938 and 1940 Messina was producing 10,000 tonnes of copper annually. Since the beginning of mining operations in the early 20th century 40 million tonnes of primary sulphide based ores (in the form of chalcopyrite, bornite and chalcocite) have been mined yielding approximately 700,000 tonnes of copper. The chalcopyrite is present along the peripheries of ore bodies and is gradually replaced by bornite, chalcocite and native copper towards the centre and downwards. There are five separite mines: the Artonvilla, Spence, Messina, Harper and the Western Campbell mine. These mines show slight variation in their local geology and mineralisation. In 1992 the last mine (Messina - No. 5 Shaft) stopped production and was closed down. This ended 88 years of copper mining in this region although local ores are now being mines as an economic source of Platinum Group Metals.


The Postcards

The webmaster knows of only one mining related postcard view from this region but suspects there are more. 

"Thumbnail" Images  Card Title or Description Card  Ref. No.
Messina Mine, Concentrator. PC190
General View of Messina Mine PC194


1) For further information and enlarged views of each postcard click on any one of the above images.

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