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I Dream Africa

I Dream Africa

Tsumeb

   

Situated in north eastern Namibia, Tsumeb is Namibia's colourful garden town with its Jacaranda and Flamboyant trees that line the streets. The town was founded in 1905, primarily as a mining town.

Taking a short drive outside of Tsumeb, you will be able to visit the Otjikoto Lake. This easily can be fit into your itinerary if you are enroute to the eastern part of the Etosha National Park

History

The existence of the rich copper deposits in the Otavi and Tsumeb areas, could not be kept a secret forever, and in 1880 the representative of an English company, Captain Ferrow, sank the first shaft at Gross Otavi in 1880.

1892-1906 Saw exploration of the copper deposits and the construction of two prospecting shafts 20m deep by Matthew Rogers from the South West African Company (SWACO), who obtained the concession for the exclusive mining rights from the German government in 1892.
It proved that ore deposits were very rich, but as metal prices were low at that stage and the transport problem to the coast not yet solved, exploration was confined to systematically pioneer the mining opportunities in the Otavi Mountain Land, to compile maps of the district by trigonometric surveys and to record the first meteorological observations in this area.

In 1900, the Otavi Minen and Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft (O.M.E.G.) was founded, the same year when the first consignment of copper ore, weighing nine tons in total was dispatched by ox-wagon to Swakopmund. By 1 March 1901, a total of 1269 feet of shaft had been sunk, and the linking of shafts under-ground to mine the ore-body sideways had also started. In 1903 the OMEG, through the contractor of Arthur Koppel (Berlin) started with the construction of a narrow gauge railway line from Swakopmund to Tsumeb. In 1905 mining resumed in Tsumeb by making old shafts accessible and re-timbering the drifts and crosscuts.

Water for Tsumeb was obtained from the late Otjikoto, and from Khorab for the railway personnel and locomotives. On 24 August 1906 the railway from Swakopmund to Tsumeb was completed, and officially opened with the first scheduled train between Omaruru and Tsumeb on 12 November 1906. New shafts had been sunk, and plans for a smelter with lead- and copper-furnaces were underway. From 1906 – 1946 the O.M.E.G. experienced a productive period as the Tsumeb Mine proved to be one of the finest lead- and copper mines worldwide.

World War I brought the production to a standstill as workers were mobilised for military service, but gradually resumed after the capitulation of the German forces at Khorab on 9 July 1915. In 1920 the mine was up and running again, but took a downward turn with the depression in 1932 that was ironed out again by about 1938. On 25 September 1940 all mining activities stopped after the outbreak of World War II, the assets of the mine passed over to the Custodian of Enemy Property, and the South African Government railed off substantial shipment of ore off to South Africa.

Then the mine lay dormant until 1946. In 1947, Tsumeb Corporation Limited, an American-based mining company, who resuscitated the mine and the town of Tsumeb that had been dormant during the Second World War, bought the mine. Between 1947 and 1954, the mine was considerably deepened, the miners’ quarters were expanded through numerous new houses, a recreation club with a cinema-dance hall and a swimming pool, new laboratories were installed and new head-magisterial seat of a new district in 1952, with new magistrate’s offices and a post-office. An economical slump during the fifties caused the building of a smelter plant in 1960, whereby escalating overseas treatment charges could be excluded and full use could be made of the new standard gauge railway line that had replaced the old narrow-gauge railway line. A tarmac road finally linked Tsumeb and Windhoek up in 1966. On 13 March 2000 the Tsumeb mine and the smelter plant was taken over by Ongopolo Mining and Processing Limited, after TCL was placed in liquidation by its holding company, Gold Fields Namibia, and became an entirely Namibian-controlled mining company.

Tsumeb has since developed into a thriving garden town. Its strategic position on the doorstep to Northern Namibia and the mine make it one of the most important towns in the northern regions of Namibia.

Interesting facts

The largest known underground lake in the world, called Dragon's Breath, is found on a private farm close to Tsumeb. This lake is not open to the public yet.

Highlights

  • Lake Otjikoto
  • Tsumeb Museum
  • St. Barbara’s Church
  • Second Director’s House
  • O.M.E.G. Mining Office
  • Tsumeb Arts & Crafts Centre
   
For more information you can visit our website at www.idreamafrica.com.na