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Lime Kilns
Ngodwana district, Mpumalanga

Type:Lime Kiln


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25°35'39.07" S 30°38'39.06" E Alt: 949m

In the 19th century, burnt lime was used in the extraction of gold from ore, until cyanide replaced it in the extraction process. Ninety years ago, the sound of gunpowder charges and miners' picks was the order of the day. Most of the mining on Grootgeluk was done by hand but gunpowder was used for blasting. The miners simply followed the thick white seams in the mountainside. Mule-drawn coco pans brought the lime to the surface — in some cases a distance of almost four kilometres — and to the kilns. Coddard had imported Italian builders and Germans to do the reinforcing and metal work. With brick, round stone and wet lime they constructed, firstly three round pit kilns below the present day Sappi Mill, and then the 60ft (18.3m) high, round kilns near the old farm house above the Sappi Mill. The stonework was reinforced with steel straps with adjustable buckles and the chimneys were made of hardened steel plates imported from Germany.

On the completion of the kilns Goddard gave a party for the workmen but it ended in disaster as the Germans and Italians fought each other and it is said that it was only eventually stopped with the assistance of a small Boer Commando. Goddard, who was reprimanded by the Republican Government, was so upset that he sacked all the Italians and replaced them with an assortment of English, Scots, and Portuguese miners. The burnt lime was railed to the goldfields on the newly completed ZASM Railway. However in 1899 the mine on Grootgeluk came to a standstill when cyanide was found to be more suitable. Goddard, realising the lime mine had come to an end, suddenly secretly left for Germany without paying his hundreds of workmen, the mine was subsequently declared insolvent and all the machinery sold.

(Davies-Webb, 2009:37)

Writings about this entry

Davies-Webb, Paddy. 2009. Memories of the Lowveld's Elands Valley 1854-1983 : recollections of a lifetime in the Valley and its surrounds. Unknown: Paddy Davies-Webb. pg 37