MINING IN AFRICA (COPPER, GOLD AND PETROLEUM)

MINING IN AFRICA (COPPER, GOLD AND PETROLEUM)
  • MINING OF GOLD

Africa leads the whole world in the production of gold. South Africa is the largest producer of gold in Africa, followed by Ghana, Zimbabwe and Zaire. Gold is a valuable metallic mineral.

 

MAJOR MINING AREAS

  1. Witwatersrand near Johannesburg in South Africa.
  2. Klerksdrop and Welkom in South Africa.
  3. Dunkua and Tarkwa in Ghana.
  4. Gatoama and Gwanda in Zimbabwe.

 

METHODS OF MINING GOLD

The method of mining gold is the underground or shaft method. In this method, vertical shafts or holes are dug to reach the ore bearing rocks from where holes are drilled. Explosives are used to fill the holes to shatter the rocks by blasting. The broken rocks are then hauled to the surface, using conveys or belt or lift. They are taken to the concentrator that filters out the gold which is later sent to the smelters for further refining.

 

TRANSPORTATION AND MARKETING

  • In South Africa: Gold is mainly transported by rail and road to processing factory or to Port Elizabeth or East London for export. Major market for gold includes America, Britain and Japan.

 

ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE OF GOLD

  1. The mining of this mineral provides jobs for many people.
  2. Taxes paid by mining companies including export and import duties on the mineral are sources of revenue to the government.
  3. The export of mineral like gold serves as foreign exchange for the country.
  4. Essential goods or products are derived from mineral e.g. necklace, wristwatch, medals etc.
  5. Gold provides raw materials for industries.
  6. Money earned from gold is used to provide social and basic amenities which improve the standard of living of the people.
  7. The presence and extraction of this mineral enable people to acquire different skills.
  8. The presence of gold in an area leads to the development of infrastructure like roads, electricity, telephone, pipe borne water etc. in these areas.
  9. Towns like Johannesburg in South Africa and Tarkwa in Ghana have grown due to the presence of gold.
  10. The exploration of minerals in the country has led to the production of certain geological maps.

 

PROBLEMS OF MINING GOLD

  1. Inadequate capital to exploit the minerals.
  2. Poor transport network.
  3. Outdated topographical maps are used.
  4. Lack of or inadequate trained personnel in mining and exploitation of minerals.
  5. Difficult terrain increases operational costs.
  6. Fluctuations in world prices of minerals.
  7. There is the problem of constant conflicts with the local people and the prospecting companies.
  8. Environmental pollution.
  9. High rate of sabotage by unpatriotic people in the mining area.
  10. Poor management.

 

  • PETROLEUM

Petroleum or crude oil is an important fuel mineral produced in Libya, Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt and Gabon.

 

MAJOR MINING AREAS

  1. Port Harcourt and Warri in Nigeria.
  2. Mersa and Bergha in Libya.
  3. Kahala field near Ouargla in Algeria.

 

METHOD OF MINING PETROLEUM

The method used in mining petroleum is the Drilling method. In this method, the underground rocks are sampled and tested for traces of oil. When the oil is discovered, a well is sunk to reach it with the aid of a drilling rig or derrick. The oil is then pumped out mechanically or naturally if the pressure within the oil zone in the soil is high.

In the soil, three layers within the oil zone exist:

  • Natural gas is found on top.
  • Petroleum or crude oil in the middle.
  • Water at the bottom.

 

TRANSPORTATION AND MARKETING

Crude oil is transported mainly by pipe lines either to the refineries for refining or processing or to the ports for export. Major markets include Britain, America, Japan, Germany, South Africa, etc.

 

IMPORTANCE OF PETROLEUM

  1. Essential goods or products are derived e.g. petroleum provides kerosene, petrol, grease, engine oil, aviation fuel, etc.
  2. The presence and extraction of petroleum enabled people to acquire different skills.
  3. The presence of mineral like petroleum in an area leads to the development of infrastructure like roads, electricity, telephone, pipe borne water etc. in these areas.
  4. The export of petroleum serves as foreign exchange for the country.

 

PROBLEMS OF MINING PETROLEUM

  1. Environmental pollution e.g. Oil spillage.
  2. There is the problem of constant conflicts with the local people and the prospecting companies.

 

  • COPPER

Copper is another metallic mineral produced by Zambia, Zaire, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

 

MAJOR MINING AREAS

  1. Ndola, Nchanga and Chibuluma in Zambia.
  2. Shaba province e.g. Lumumbashi and Kolwezi in Zaire.
  3. Messing in South Africa.
  4. Uwkundu and Nankia in Zimbabwe.

 

METHODS OF MINING COPPER

Two methods are used for the mining of copper depending on the depth of the mineral.

  • Open cast method of mining
  1. Explosives are used to remove the over-burden rocks.
  2. A powerful machine called a dragline is then used to pile the copper washed into a heap.
  3. A monitor is then used to direct a strong jet of water towards the heap.
  4. The water washes the soil through a series of sluice boxes.
  5. The copper ore sinks to the bottom of the sluice boxes while the water carries the dirt away.
  6. The copper concentrate now formed, is later sent to the factory for smelting.

 

  • The underground or Shaft method: In this method, vertical shafts or holes are dug to reach the ore bearing rocks from where holes are drilled. Explosives are used to fill the holes to shatter the rocks by blasting. The broken rocks are then taken to the surface from where they are taken to the concentrator that filters out the copper. The copper, which is later, sent to the smelters for further refining.

 

TRANSPORTATION AND MARKETING

  1. Copper is transported by rail to the port of Beira in Mozambique through Zimbabwe because Zambia is a land-locked country.
  2. Roads are also used to transport copper to the port of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania for export. Major market for copper includes European countries, Japan and America.

 

IMPORTANCE OF COPPER

  1. Copper is used in electrical equipment because it is good conductor of electricity.
  2. It can be used to produce good alloys e.g. copper and zinc produce brass while copper with tin produce bronze.
  3. Cobalt, an important mineral is a by-product of copper.
  4. The export of copper serves as foreign exchange for the country.
  5. Towns like Ndola, Nchanga and Chibuluma in Zambia have grown due to the presence of copper.
  6. The presence and extraction of copper enable people to acquire different skills.