Sunday, 27 December 2015

Gold of the Boer War

The armed conflict between Britain and the two Boer republics of Transvaal and Orange Free State in South Africa, the second Boer War, began on 11 October 1899 and ended on 31 May 1902.

The Boer War (Gold War) was the first war of the bloody 20th century. It pitted the might of the British Empire against a small group of Dutch farmers. Boer is the Dutch word for farmer.
The British mobilized an army of more than 500,000 men from all corners of the empire to fight the Dutch farmers. This vast army used state of the art military technology. One such weapon was the newly invented Maxim machine gun.
Despite overwhelming numbers and the latest killing technology, the Boers fought heroically against the British invaders. The Boers were never able to field more that 60,000 men but they fought tenaciously and displayed amazing courage and resourcefulness to defend their homeland.

Boer soldiers at Ladysmith, South Africa, circa 1899
The Battle of Spion Kop was fought on the hilltop of Spioenkop along the Tugela River in South Africa from 23–24 January 1900.

Six companies of the 2nd Battalion The King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment marching in column, and at ease, towards Spion Kop.
20,000 British troops faced 8,000 Boers. It was a complete British defeat. The British suffered 243 fatalities; many were buried in the trenches where they fell. Another 1,250 British were either wounded or captured. Mohandas Gandhi was a stretcher-bearer at the battle, in the Indian Ambulance Corps.

Boers at Spion Kop, 1900.

The British trench in "the murderous acre" on Spion Kop
In the closing stages of the Anglo-Boer War, Paul Kruger, president of the South African Republic of Transvaal and the face of the resistance against the British, was said to have absconded with all of the riches of his nation when he fled from encroaching British troops in 1900.

In the 1880s Kruger had issued orders that if the British threatened the capital city of Pretoria the entire reserves of the national bank - gold bullion and coins - should be put on wagons and hidden in the African plains. Following his evacuation, Kruger lived out the last four years of his life in exile before dying in Switzerland. Most Boer leadership were killed and the location of the Krugerrand fortune has never been revealed.

The 1902 gold Veldpond also known as the "Pilgrim's Rest Coin" is a coin struck by the Boers on the run from the overwhelming British forces on a makeshift mint set up in the veld (long grass) in the remote region of Pilgrims Rest in the north eastern Transvaal. For many numismatists the Veld Pond is the holy grail of South African coins.

Soft hand-cut dies and an improvised flypress were used to strike about 530 coins in gold. Only a single set of hand carved dies were used - thus the simple design and the poor quality of the coin. The dies were kept under lock and key so the official mintage figures are deemed to be accurate. Genuine Veld Ponds today sell for well over US $20,000

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Diamonds of Namibia

Namibia is world-renowned for its diamonds that occur along the Orange River as well as onshore and offshore along the coastline. Namibian diamonds were originally transported via the Orange River into the Atlantic Ocean and distributed northwards by currents.

Diamonds typically occur as placers within raised and “drowned” beach terraces, gullies in the bedrock, and alluvial deposits in wind corridors within southern Namibia.
Diamonds have been mined in Namibia since 1908, when railway worker Zacharias Lewala found a stone that would change the course of history of Africa/Namibia, and of alluvial mining.
The stone was a diamond, and shortly after he handed it to his supervisor, a frenzied diamond rush to the desert sands near Luderitz took place which resulted in the mining of seven million carats for colonial Germany until World War I in 1914.

Namibia is one of the world’s largest producers of gem quality diamonds, with about 95% of diamonds produced being gem quality.
The major diamond producing company in Namibia is Namdeb Diamond Corporation, jointly owned by the Namibian government and De Beers, which produced 1.76 million carats in 2013, up 6 percent on 2012.

Other companies mining diamonds include Sakawe Mining Corporation (Samincor) and Diamond Fields Namibia.

Marine diamond mining began in the 1960s off the coast of southern Namibia. Namibia is the world's fifth largest diamond producer by value with an average per carat value of US$276.

Namibia's marine diamond production has now surpassed traditional land based production.
Marine mining as deep as 140m has brought Namibia the distinction of being the leading marine mineral mining country in the world. Over the years, the various areas combined have produced around 95 million carats, including around 12 million from deep water marine mining.

Diamonds continue to dominate Namibia's economy. They account for more than 40 percent of export revenue and more than five percent of GDP.