BLACK MOUNTAIN MINE / AGGENEYS

Unlike many other mineral deposits in South Africa, the true potential of the Aggeneys deposits were only discovered recently in the 1970's.  Before then, various surveys had been undertaken and some low grade copper deposits were tested as far back as 1929.  It was only in 1971 ,however, that Phelps Dodge, the mining company, acquired prospecting options and discovered a rich deposit of sulphide ore at Black Mountain.

In 1977, Gold Fields of South Africa obtained a majority shareholding in the The Black Mountain Mineral Development Company and mining operations were finally started in 1979 at Black Mountain.  In 1987, 1.2 million tonnes of ore were processed to produce 18 000 tonnes of copper concentrate, 125000 tonnes of lead concentrate and 60 000 tonnes of zinc concentrate.

Today, the area is still being developed and two major deposits are being mined at Black Mountain and Broken Hill.  Other deposits have been identified including a large zinc deposit at Gamsberg, however these have not been developed due to the availability of zinc elsewhere and the mining costs involved.  It is likely that new mines will be developed sometime in future when the price of zinc and/or lead rises to a level where such development becomes financially attractive. 

Aggeneys and the associated mines receive their water from the Orange River via the Pelladrift pump station. 

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The water is first purified at a treatment plant mainly to remove the sediment which would cause problems in a long pipeline.  It is then conveyed to Aggeneys and also to the town of Pofadder through the 50 km long pipeline.  Almost 8 million m3 of water are used annually at the mine and although this volume is relatively small relative to the resources of the Orange River, it represents a high priority demand.

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