Hout Bay Manganese Mines

Hout Bay Manganese Mines

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Manganese was known to have existed in the Cape since 1676 but Manganese mining did not start until the early 19th century. One of South Africa’s earliest recorded manganese discoveries and operations was the Hout Bay Manganese Mine, located on the slopes of the mountain just above Chapman’s Peak Drive, in the southwestern side of the Cape Peninsula.

Written historical records show that manganese was first discovered in Hout Bay in November 1873. In 1909, A J Parker and a Mr. Prior formed the Hout Bay Manganese Ltd. With turbaned Indian miners, the company mined the Manganese deposit in Hout Bay from May 1910 to May 1911. The mined ores were sent to Britain and Belgium. In 1910 the mine produced about 5,000 tons of Manganese ore. In 1911, however, production dropped to a mere 130 tons.

Despite the fact that a substantial quantity of ore remained in the mountain, the mine closed in 1912. Problems with the used shute in transferring the ore down the mountainside to the waiting cargo ships possibly influenced the decision. The ore also possibly contained an undesirably high percentage of phosphorus.

Today, very little of the century-old Manganese Mine remains. Many local residents are unaware that a mine once operated in the area. The concrete pillars of the ore jetty in Chapman’s Bay still remain and the old adits on the mine. Aside from the adits and the remains of the ore jetty, expect to see a number of Manganese ore dumps, the Cannon battery and beautiful views of Hout Bay and Sentinel.