Kromdraai Gold Mine

Gold is central to the history of South Africa – Johannesburg was established after the gold rush in 1886. One of the oldest gold mines in the province, the Kromdraai Gold Mine, is a great attraction for visitors to learn more about Gauteng’s golden history.

Mine entrance. Image courtesy of Andrew Roos

Only 40 minutes from Johannesburg, it is located in the scenic Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. A visit to the mine is like a walk back in time to the days of the first president of South Africa, Paul Kruger.

Historical background

Incidentally, it was Kruger who granted the first mining concession in the Witwatersrand area. Kromdraai was ahead of the rush as Johannes Stephanus Minnaar first discovered gold there in 1881, five years before the gold rush began. The farm, however, was only proclaimed a mine in 1885.

There were many mines in the area in the 1880s and besides being one of the oldest, Kromdraai was also very productive as it yielded about 25 grams of gold per ton of ore. Miners back then had to work by candlelight without shoes or helmets. Donkeys were used to pull carts of ore along tracks snaking through the tunnels until they reached the outside.

In the late 19th century, South Africa was a hub of economic activity – in 1898, the gold production of the Witwatersrand was more than that of the entire United States. Jump forward more than a century and gold is still the major basis of South Africa’s economy.

Mine tours

Visitors to the old mine can learn about traditional mining methods by being taken on a tour of the mine, which you need to enter through a large hole in the side of a hill.

Image courtesy of Andrew Roos

The tour lasts one hour – 45 minutes of which is spent underground while 15 minutes are spent above ground listening to an interesting introductory lecture.

Examine old machinery as you make your way through ancient tunnels into the mountain’s heart. Walking along the coco-pan tracks will give you an insight into the working conditions that miners endured all those years ago.

General artefacts in the museum. © Gauteng Tourism Authority

Places of interest

The Kromdraai Gold Mine is situated in the tranquil Kromdraai Valley, which is close to many other award-winning attractions such as the Maropeng Visitor Centre and the Sterkfontein Caves. Combine a tour of the mine with some of these other attractions and learn not only about the economic history of South Africa, but also about the origins of humankind.

Admission

The Kromdraai Gold Mine is open to the public on weekends, with the first tour starting at 09h00 and the last tour at 16h00. To visit the mine during the week, visitors need to make an appointment. The cost is R80 per adult and R50 per child (school-going age).

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