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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Role of American Mining Technology and American Mining Engineers in the Witwatersrand Gold Mining Industry, 1890-1910
Author:Katz, ElaineISNI
Periodical:South African Journal of Economic History
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:gold mining
Development and Technology
Economics and Trade
History and Exploration
Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment
international relations
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/10113430509511186
Abstract:This article examines the 'American' period (c. 1890-1910) of mining engineers on the Witwatersrand, South Africa, and their specific contributions to the development of the Witwatersrand gold mining industry. It shows how the gold mining industry, with the assistance of predominantly American mining engineers, achieved an enormous gold output notwithstanding the high costs of both capital and labour. In spite of the international low cost of investible funds, capital costs were high. Quite apart from heavy expenditure on development, these capital costs included: the high risk premium (amortization) demanded for investing on the Witwatersrand; and the inflated costs of machinery because of the distance from its source and high transport costs. American engineers played a significant role in mechanizing the Witwatersrand gold mines and organizing the industry, which was the biggest employer of labour in South Africa, the largest contributor to GDP, the largest exporter, and the greatest spur to economic growth. The 'American' period among the Witwatersrand mining engineers closed in 1914, when there was a noticeable reduction in their numbers. The attrition of American 'pre-eminence' began around 1910 with the creation of the Union of South Africa. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]