Gold Mine Tours, Johannesburg

Gold mining history tour.

Gold Mine Tours Johannesburg

Johannesburg historical gold mine tours.

Indeed, south of Johannesburg lies the largest subterranean gold reef in the world.

Specialised Johannesburg gold history tour. Johannesburg’s growth from a tented town to thus becoming the gold capital of the world.

Accordingly, this speciality tour gives you an understanding of Johannesburg’s 134 years of gold history.

From the main gold reef find through the Anglo-Boer War, then the many miners’ strikes.

Additionally, the remaining mine headgear and gold mine waste dumps.

Including recent problems around acid mine drainage.

Day tour or multi-day tour:

Ekala Eco Tours can condense some Gold histories of Johannesburg into a day tour.

However, to cover the items in a more comprehensive way does require 3 or more days allocated to the tour.

Johannesburg Mine Tours
Consequently, an understanding of Johannesburg’s Gold Mining and its role in the establishment of Johannesburg and South Africa as a whole.
Early Johannesburg Mine

Johannesburg Gold History Tour

Gold rush route Johannesburg – the gold capital of the world. Witwatersrand ‘ridge of white waters’ the richest gold area/reef in the world.

Enormously valuable gold reef, most however buried deep below the surface.

Johannesburg – Major world city – founded in a waterless, treeless, barren dust bowl of the then Randjeslaagte farm and became known as the Rand and Witwatersrand.

Ekala Eco Tours cover and goes into 2 or 3 (time dependent)  historical gold mines and then visits one of the earliest Johannesburg mine stopes. Perfectly preserved.

A single day tour, however, we only cover one of the historical gold mines.

Then currently, no operational gold mine supplies, tours or even allow access to the mine property by the general public.

Ekala has access to many of these areas, however, are problems relating to – `Zama-zamas’ – illegal miners.

Hence, no direct access (or safe access) to the actual old Johannesburg gold mine shafts. Apart from the 3 mine shafts we are able to use.

Thus the only option for an operational mine underground tour is the Cullinan diamond mine.

So Johannesburg’s first residents with gold in their veins.
Early people in the area, gold prospectors, miners, and additionally people caught up in events:

Brothers Fred and Harry Struben:

Owned sections of adjoining farms Sterkfontein and Wilgespruit. They were the most active of the then gold prospectors in the area at the time.


Consequently discovered a rich in gold, quartz vein and named it the Confidence Reef. Thus founded the Confidence Reef gold mine. As a result running a five-stamp battery in the area.


However, they then made more money, crushing other prospectors gold bearing rock than gold from the Confidence Reef. Additionally, buying shares in new gold mines.


Harry served on the firsts Diggers Committee and was then elected first president of the South African Chamber of Mines.

Archie Edgson:

Ran the first store and then a hotel on the Crocodile River, Muldersdrift, Witwatersrand.

Moved to Ferreira’s Camp, one of the early gold mines in the area, to accordingly open one of the first hotels in Johannesburg.

Paul Kruger:

President of the Transvaal Republic. Transvaal Republic covered the full area of all the then gold finds.

Gerhardus, Nellie and Petronella Oosthuizen:

Farmers and landowners, including a portion of the farm Langlaagte where the main gold reef was discovered. Accordingly leading to the official proclamation of a gold field on the Witwatersrand.

The 3 George’s – George Harrison, George Walker and George Honeyball.

Masons and Carpenters, but working the area amongst others, the Oosthuizen’s and Strubens. George Harrison is, however, credited with the find of the main Johannesburg gold reef.

Jan Gerritse Bantjes:

Discovered the Bird Reef on the Vogelstruisfontein farm and thus milled the gold bearing ore on site as Bantjes Gold Mine. Accordingly, part of the Struben brothers’ close group of friends during these times.

Siegmund Hammerschlag:

Erected the first gold bearing ore-crushing machine. A two-stamp battery initially on his farm Tweefontein, part of the current Krugersdorp/Mogale City, referred today as the West Rand.

Lieutenant R N Lys and Godfrey Lys:

Step-nephew to the Strubens. Thus, worked with the Struben brothers.

Fran’s, Louw and Judith Geldenhuys:

Found gold at Elandsfontein and established the then Geldenhuys Estates Gold Mining Company.

John Henry Davis:

Early find of significant quantities of gold on the farm Paardekraal. Part of the current Krugersdorp/Mogale City, west of Johannesburg, thus known as the West Rand.

Pieter J Marais:

Found small quantities of gold in the Crocodile and additionally the Jukskei River.

Henry Lewis:

Discovered an alluvial gold deposit west of Johannesburg, near Krugersdorp.

Ekala’s gold mining tour covers an area of over 150 square kilometres.
Places covered on the tour (dependent on tour duration – 1 to 4 days):

Most towns west or east of Johannesburg came about directly through the mining of the Main Gold Reef, along with the Main Reef Leader. A 120 km long gold reef that is seemingly bottomless.

Ekala thus covers as much of this area as can be covered in the time available. One day in the gold mining area east of Johannesburg and one day west.

Additionally, as may be possible to access on the day.

Indeed, a fully guided tour – discussing en-route the history and people as we drive through/cover this huge area.

Accordingly, many of Johannesburg’s streets were to be named after early gold prospecting pioneers.

George Harrison Park. The spot where gold reef found and accordingly George Harrison’s original gold claim.


Langlaagte Deep Village. Indeed, one of the earliest remaining gold mining villages, Crown mines, Langlaagte.


Gold Reef City: Actually, only remaining gold mine in the Johannesburg area that has an operational shaft.

Shaft 14, Crown Mines, however, tourists only, not an operational gold mine.


Accordingly, one of hundreds of original shafts along the east west arc of gold bearing rock south of Johannesburg.


At this historic gold mine, we can take an underground tour to the upper level of the mine and additionally a visit and walk through the gold mine village.


Ferreira gold Mine Stope: Excellently preserved original stope (entrance to the then Ferreira Gold Mine).


Main Reef Road: Bears witness to over a century of gold mining.


Johannesburg City Centre:

Town Hall, Chamber of Mines, Original Randjeslaagte Beacon, marking the then northern edge of Johannesburg.


Main Street, Johannesburg – artefacts from early days of gold mining in Johannesburg. Additionally, offices of BHP Billiton, Anglo platinum, Anglogold, Goldfields and Chamber of Mines.


Johannesburg Gold Mining district: Head offices of the biggest role players in the mining industry and location of one of the few remaining gold ore stamp batteries.


JSE – Johannesburg stock exchange. Largest securities exchange in Africa. Dating back to Johannesburg’s early gold days.

Although current JSE is in Sandton – northern part of Johannesburg.


Museum Africa: Includes exhibitions focusing on Johannesburg’s gold and mining life.


Mary Fitzgerald Square: Mary Fitzgerald, first woman trade unionist and key figure in 1910 gold miners strike.


Workers Museum: A workers’ compound not directly linked to the gold mines, however, identical to those used in the gold mines in the early years of mining in Johannesburg and provides insight into the way of life.


Early Mining (white) suburbs: Brixton, Mayfair, Fordsburg, Sophiatown.


Brixton and Braamfontein Cemeteries: Johannesburg’s forefathers. Resting place of Johannesburg’s early gold miners. Pauper graves and graves of the 1922 gold miners Rand Revolt

Amazing what a walk through the cemetery’s can tell a visitor of Johannesburg’s history.


Ferreirasdorp: Oldest gold mining camp in Johannesburg.


Crown Mines: Site for the reprocessing of old mine dumps to recover remaining gold – Crown Gold Recoveries

West Rand (west of Johannesburg). The western part of Gauteng.

Including three Anglogold/Anglo Ashanti operations, including Savuka, TauTona and Mponeng gold mine, currently the deepest and richest gold mine, not only in South Africa, but in the world.


Formerly the western deep levels south shaft, located on the northwestern rim of the Witwatersrand basin.


Kromdraai Gold Mine: Gold discovered by Johannes Stephanus Minnaar and became the first government gold mining concession on what was later to be known as the Witwatersrand.

At this gold mine, we do take a tour inside the historic gold mine – along the incline shaft. Dependent on duration applied to gold mine tour.


Randfontein: Randfontein Estates Gold Mining Company and Robinson Lake. Once owning biggest private rail system in the world.


The remains of this can be seen during our visit to Randfontein – including a huge part of the mines steam train engines.


Roodepoort: Vogelstruisfontein, Paardekraal and Wilgespruit, the first gold mine on the edge of the Witwatersrand.


Steam engine and original gold bearing ore-crushing machine, a five stamp battery of the Struben Confidence gold mine.


Delarey House, Old Municipal Offices, Roodepoort Cultural History Museum and Town School, one of the oldest buildings in Roodepoort.


Vlakfontein Monument, commemorating the Jameson Raid. Precursor to the Boer War.


Krugersdorp: West Rand Consolidated Mine.


Magaliesberg: Blaauwbank Gold Mine: Historic Gold Mine strongly connected with James Jennings and first mined in 1874 after Henry Lewis found quartzite gold in the area. Predates main gold finds in Johannesburg.


First official gold mining company in South Africa and established the “Nil Desperandum Co-operative Quartz Company” and later amalgamated into the Blaauwbank United Gold Mines Co. Ltd.


See how early gold miners worked gold bearing ore and view original mining equipment.

Ekurhuleni (east of Johannesburg). Eastern part of Gauteng.

Dotted with towns that emerged as a result of gold mining in the Johannesburg area.

ERPM (East Rand Proprietary Mines): Combination of outcrop and deep level mining by the Farrar-Anglo French group.

Sev Mine, Cason mine shaft, Angelo deep shaft and the Broomfield gold mining village.


Including areas of Boksburg, Benoni, and Brakpan.


Boksburg: Leeuwpoort once a farm with several of the richest and deepest gold mines in the world.


Benoni: Chimes, Modderfontein, Kleinfontein and Vlakfontein Gold Mines. Benoni Gold Mining Company first to mine in the area.


Strikers route, Benoni museum and insight into miners’ strikes.


Brakpan: Flourished with coal and gold mines for over 50 years.


Germiston: Elandsfontein and Simmer and Jack gold mine museum.


Rand Refinery, largest gold refinery since 1922 and refining all South African gold. Supplied the gold blanks for minting of Krugerrands.


Springs: Once the largest single gold producing area in the world and original fuel source (Coal) supplier to gold mining industry.

Modderfontein: Oldest industrial area and site of the original Johannesburg Dynamite company. Johannesburg quickly became the biggest dynamite user in the world.


Also visit the Modderfontein dynamite village.

Witwatersrand – an early name for the area around and including Johannesburg – meaning “ridge of white waters” but with a massive gold reef below the surface.

Early Johannesburg goldfield

Gold mining beginnings

First gold found in the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg Rand area was in quartz rock and in addition as alluvial gold.

However, in small quantities only.


Then main gold reef find of 1886 changed this.


Quantities of gold were actually high. This gold however was different to any gold find anywhere in the world previously.

The main source of Johannesburg’s Gold was in a conglomerate formation. At that time called “Banket”.

Consequently Johannesburg grew from nothing into a tented town with a population of several thousand within a matter of weeks of its proclamation in October 1886.


Farms situated on the Witwatersrand/Johannesburg proclaimed, as public gold diggings included the then farms of:


Driefontein, Elandsfontein, Turffontein, Langlaagte, Roodepoort, Paardekraal, Vogelstruisfontein and southern portion of Doornfontein.


Southern part of the then government farm, Randjeslaagte, was also proclaimed as public gold diggings.

Johannesburg gold reef, actually made up of various layers, including the Main Reef, Main Leader Reef and South Reef.

While gold mines on these reefs collectively produced most of the world’s gold for close to 100 years.

Gold Mine Tours

Gold Mine tours – Johannesburg.

Johannesburg’s mining tour

Defining moments covered on the gold mine tour

Main gold reef find of 1886.

Anglo Boer war of 1899-1902 although generally today referred to as the South African War.

Consequently, with the British eager to take control of Johannesburg/Witwatersrand and the gold mines.

Miners strikes of 1910/1913/1946/1987

Rand revolt – 1922 – When war came to Johannesburg streets, thus changing the course of South Africa’s history. With 22000 gold and coal miners in open revolt against the South African State.


Martial law – then with bombs and shells raining down on Johannesburg suburbs of Fordsburg, Jeppe, Brixton, Ferreirastown and Vrededorp.

Early Johannesburg gold mine board of directors - Ekala Mining Tours
So Gold, War and people trying to protect their livelihood as gold miners.
Gold Mine Tours main street Johannesburg
Gold Landscape viewed while on tour

Greater Johannesburg Highveld, a fragmented landscape of gold mine shafts, head gears, dams, blue gum forests and then strangely shaped mountains of mine tailings.


Johannesburg’s distinctive mine dumps, spread across the south of Johannesburg, from west to east.


Then at the base of these mine dumps, lie the slimes dams. Man made “lakes” actually used in the processing of the gold.

Early mine Coco pan

The South African working class, through hard labour, mined the gold that accordingly made others rich.

Most needing to leave their rural village and family.

This migration led to the rapid development of townships as Soweto and Alexandra on the then outskirts of Johannesburg.

Mining Today

In Johannesburg’s early days, it was more the individual claim prospectors and owners who became rich. It was not long after that, these prospectors were replaced with entrepreneurs with vast financial resources.

Today it is giant gold mining houses. BHP Billiton, Anglo platinum, Anglo Gold and Goldfields that form the major part of gold mining corporations of South Africa.

Most of today’s profitable gold mines are in the west of Johannesburg, in the area of Carletonville.


Gold Mines of Savuka, TauTona and Mponeng that make up the most technically advanced mines in the world.  Additionally the deepest gold mines, not only in South Africa, but in the world.

Gold bearing reef layers are known as the Main Reef – Main Reef Leader – South Reef and were collectively called the Main Reef Group of Conglomerates.

Accordingly, in over 90 years, over a third of the world’s gold came from these reefs.

Also the world’s primary source of uranium.

Consequently South Africa has become a world leader in gold mining technology and deep level gold mining.

The deepest gold mines in the world – over 4000 metres below the surface.

Mine Shaft
Environmental mining issues of today covered on the gold tour

Waste from gold mines, including the Western Basin, Eastern Basin and Central Witwatersrand mining basin.


Thus constituting the largest source of pollution in South Africa. Hazards of acid mine drainage, from historical and current gold mining.


Decanting of flooded gold mines.

Surface and groundwater pollution.

Degradation of the soil and dust pollution.


Heavy metals in water supply.

Mining induced earthquakes, rock bursts and formation of sinkholes.


Arsenic, cyanide as well as other hazardous substances, including Radon gas emanating from gold mine dumps.


Abandoned gold mines and slimes dams.

Not the highlight of our tour – but does show the damage caused by over a century of gold mining.

With the high background radiation in the area – due to naturally occurring Uranium. Not an area you wish to spend any significant length of time.

However, vulnerable, improvised communities do live in these areas. In shacks amongst abandoned mines and waste dumps, thus being exposed to poisoning from every possible source daily.

Acid Mine Drainage – implications and the damage.

Gold Mine Tours
Other items we cover in the gold mine tour – dependent on tour duration allocated and booked.

160 square kilometres of Johannesburg and surrounding areas. Covering over 130 years of gold history.


Gold Mine tailings reprocessing using sophisticated methods to remove the minutest traces of gold (and other minerals).


Labour requirements for the gold mines. Including the use of Chinese indentured labour and black labourers that left their rural homes to seek employment in the mines.


Growth of South African mine worker organizations, including the African mine workers union, the South Africa National Union of Mineworkers and COSATU.

Development of a new social class in Johannesburg. Johannesburg Randlords or mining magnates.


Becoming extremely wealthy in a few short years and needed homes befitting their new status.


Their extravagant taste is reflected in houses built on the Rand/Johannesburg ridges

Underground Mine Tour Rules: No persons with disabilities, pregnant, or who suffer from claustrophobia may go on an underground mine tour.

Underground operational gold mine tours are currently unavailable.

None of the operating gold mines in South Africa, (Gauteng or the Free State) will currently allow entry by the general public.


Our full histories and fully guided tours through the area are certainly available – only, no access to the operating shafts.


Operational diamond mine is available – Cullinan Underground tours.

Mineral-rich soil and in its sediment – Gold – Uranium – iron pyrites

Gold – Kruger Rands

Introduced to the world in 1967, at a time of world sanctions against South Africa.

Encouraging private ownership of gold and by 1980 accounted for 90% of world gold coin market.

Appreciation of South Africa’s multifaceted heritage.

Kromdraai Gold Mine

For multi-day safari tour package – Ekala Guest House

Southern Johannesburg Accommodation

Contact Ekala Tours

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Acid Mine Drainage Johannesburg
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Ekala’s gold mining tours can be adapted to the client’s individual needs.

Accordingly, we accommodate specific tour and personal requirements.


Enjoying while understanding South Africa’s past and current mining operations.

A gold mine tour to remember for the right reason

Looking up open shaft

Gold mine tour prices:

No prices on our website as a result of unique, individual and specialised requirements for each mine tour we supply.

Thus, Ekala structures our mine tours around the client’s individual requirements.

So if time is limited:

We thus structure the tour from arrival to departure – including airport collection and drop off.

Accordingly, using all time available as a fully guided professional gold mining tour.

Consequently, not simply a point to point mixed group drive around.

As a result, mine tour quotes are based on specific requirements.

Early Mine Sign

Visiting actual historical gold mining sites steeped in significant heritage.

Kromdraai Gold Mine open shaft

Heritage sites and historical mines, thus hold the memories and unique stories of days gone by.

Museums can show the information – but only actual gold mining-related sites can truly tell the story.

With the help of a good, knowledgeable guide.

Kromdraai Gold-Mine shaft

Accordingly, the best way to experience South Africa’s gold mining and its history is with Ekala’s passion and knowledge.

Let Ekala share South Africa’s best experiences with you.

Historical Johannesburg gold mine - candle for light

Private, professional, and reliable tailor-made gold mine tours

Johannesburg Gold Mine Headgear
Kromdraai Gold Mine shaft

 Supplied as a private, fully guided professional gold mining tour from collection to drop off.

Laanglaate Deep Ltd Johannesburg Oct 26-1907 William Eddy shift boss and attendants morning round

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Mine Headgear