Exploring Tourism in Swaziland
icon Worldwideicon
Places to Visit Details

Ngwenya Mine –lobamba

Manzini, Swaziland

This mine is the modern day site of the iron ore mining in Swaziland. The Ngwenya mountain had a large deposit of iron ore of which 2,8 million tons was mined and exported by a purpose built rail to Maputo (Lourenco Marques) and the by purpose built Norwegian cargo ships to Japan. The gaping opencast mine is truly something to behold. The mine did however destroy on early Iron Age mine, but left one perfectly intact. The accompanying visitors centre is a must to understand the history of mining in the area.

Ngwenya is one of the world’s oldest known mines. The visitors centre has an interesting display of photographs and information, including the original excavation tools. To visit the mine, even if you are travelling by vehicle, you’ll need to be accompanied by a ranger, who will explain the mine's history (note: tips are appreciated).

Although the mine is part of Malolotja Nature Reserve, you can’t continue in to the rest of the reserve from here.

The entrance is signposted off the MR3. If you have time, ask your tour guide to take you to the Lion Cavern, which was first mined 43,000 years ago making it the oldest mine in the world.

Though the world has other mines for earlier periods like the mining area of the Great Copper Mountain in Falun (Sweden) and the lwami Ginzan Silver Mine in Japan, they all date to a far later period (13th and 16th century respectively). They all boost of mining a single mineral. Ngwenya on the other hand not only boost of being the oldest mine in the world dating back to 43000BC, but also boost of mining rare minerals that no other country has mined like specularite which was used for cosmetics all over the region. Ngwenya also show evidence of three mining activities within the site which is the Lion Carven mine for specularite and red ochre, Castle carven for 400AD iron ore mining and two open casts for the 1964-1977 morden iron ore mining. This site shows clearly the earliest mining technology that was used way before Europeans came with modem tools. Earlier mines in the world also used modem tools like shovels but in this one there was wide use of choppers, hammers and picks made of dolerite.

Check out more Places to Visit