In the article below, gold expert Neil Phillips looks at the origins, growth & decline of the greatest goldfield on earth. He also hints at hopes of new discoveries. The article was first published in the The Australian Geologist, issue 200, page 21.
Magalies Memoirs focus on incidents in the Magaliesberg region and perhaps not everyone knows that it was here, in the heart of the Magaliesberg Biosphere Reserve, that gold was first discovered in the Transvaal, decades before diggers rushed to Barberton or George Harrison stumbled on the Witwatersrand Main Reef. “Discovered”, of course, needs to be qualified. We know from artifacts found at places like Mapungubwe and Thulamela that gold has been mined, treasured and traded for more than a thousand years – probably much longer.
When George Harrison discovered the Main Reef of gold at Langlaagte farm in 1886, it was believed by many to be an old river that had been turned on its side. They therefore believed the gold could not continue for more than about 30 to 50 meters underground.
[Originally published in July 2015] Tens of thousands of people cross the William Nicol Bridge over the Braamfontein Spruit as they drive to the Sandton CBD every week without realising that they are within metres of a hugely significant historical site. In 1853, more than three decades before the discovery of the largest gold field on earth, a prospector by the name of Pieter Jacobus Marais panned for and found gold in the Spruit a short distance from where the bridge now stands. This was one of the earliest discoveries of gold on the Witwatersrand!