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Home The River Basin People and the River Governance Resource Management
The Limpopo River Basin
 Introduction
Geography
 Basin Landscape
 Geomorphology
 Relief
 Geology
 Soils
Mineral Reserves
 Vegetation in the Basin
 Land Cover
 Basins of Southern Africa
 River Basin and IWRM
Climate and Weather
Hydrology
Water Quality
Ecology and Biodiversity
Sub-basin Summaries
 References

 



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Mineral Reserves of the Limpopo River Basin  

Mineral extraction and processing is a fundamental part of the economy of the southern African region.  The presence and extraction of precious and non-precious metals and gemstones has driven development in the SADC region for centuries, and has been with positive and negative outcomes in social, cultural and environmental terms.

The Limpopo River basin contains a large number of mining operations, exploiting and operationally extracting a wide range of minerals and gemstones including: gold, asbestos, copper, nickel, tungsten, pyrite, and emerald (Ashton et al. 2001).  In Botswana, most mining is associated with the mineralised Greenstone belts, with copper, gold and nickel the most important commodities mined (Ashton et al. 2001).  In addition to being the world's largest producer of gold (an industry somewhat in decline), South Africa is also a leading producer and exporter of various metals including antimony, chromites, fluorite, gems and industrial diamonds, manganese, platinum, vanadium, and vermiculite.  Mining in Zimbabwe is focused mainly on gold, with over 2 000 operating mines scattered around the country (Ashton et al. 2001).

The Phalaborwa Mine, Olifants sub-basin, South Africa.
Source: Mac 2008
( click to enlarge )

The map below illustrates the distribution of mining activities across the Limpopo River basin, by commodity.  As can be seen from this map, the majority of the mines are located in South Africa (Ashton et al. 2001), with some smaller (mostly gold) mines in Zimbabwe and a limited number of operations in Botswana and Mozambique.

Distribution of mineral reserves across the Limpopo River basin.
Source: Ashton et al. 2001
( click to enlarge )

A discussion of the impacts of these mining activities, particularly focusing on water requirements, is included in the Mining and Industry of the Resource Management theme and the Human Impacts on Water Quality in the Water Quality chapter of this theme.

 



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