Lesley Andrews

Jubilee copper slag dump, near Concordia

Towards the end of September, Richard and I met up with some members of SAMS (South African Micromount Society) in the Northern Cape. The Society is based in Gauteng, and the trip included site visits en route from Johannesburg. The Chairman of SAMS, Patrick Barrier, and Linda Stone, the President of FOSAGAMS, also joined the outing.

In the Northern Cape we stayed in accommodation at Springbok and Nababeep. This area is well-known for copper mining and processing (see Duncan Miller’s article in the SA Lapidary Magazine of November 2010: Boom and Bust – the Copper Mining Towns of Namaqualand).

We visited the two Jan Coetzee Mines, Wheel Flat Mine and the Tungsten Mine in the Nababeep area, as well as the Blue Mine in Springbok. The other SAMS members visited the Blesberg Pegmatite Mine (Steinkopf) and Koperberg in the O’Kiep area while Richard and I rediscovered his long-lost cousin in Springbok. All these mines will be familiar to many of our club’s members, and some may say that there are no longer any specimens worth collecting, but this is not true from the point of view of a micromount enthusiast. Many tiny but perfectly-formed crystals can be selected using a hand lens, to be studied and identified under the microscope later. The variety of minerals found at these locations can be gauged by the extensive Mindat data lists.

My own main interest being slag, I was delighted to visit the old smelter and museum at Nababeep, and towards the end of our trip we spent time at the Jubilee Mine and Slag Dump. I had heard lots about this site from Jo Wicht and Duncan Miller.

On top of this, it was our first experience of the flower season in Namaqualand, and we were overwhelmed by the variety and persistence of flowers which grew everywhere, even in the mines and on (apparently) bare rock. We were able to visit the Goegap Nature Reserve on Open Day in a year when there were relatively few other visitors.

We enjoyed the trip very much and a big thank you to William Black, the organiser, to Jako the braaier-in-chief, to Linda who ‘observed’ the outings and supervised salads, to all the others who re-ignited my interest in micromounting. And last but not least, to Patrick for permission to write this brief overview for the Mineral Chatter.

A more detailed article (no doubt including minerals identified) will appear in Micro News and Views (the SAMS magazine) in due course.

The remains of the slag apron at Nababeep – some slag granules still remain. The old smelter chimney is in the background

National Monuments Council plaque marking the spot where, in 1852, copper was first mined in commercial quantities in South Africa. It is known as the Blue Mine

Goegap Nature Reserve near Springbok

Beautiful vygies in the sand near Concordia

All photos taken by the author