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  -   Kevin Hean

Wits Mineral Club Outing - Moepe Mine - Pilanesburg

We met at the Bakabung entrance to the Park. The group consisted of: Allan Fraser, Kevin Hean, Hans and Malene Wassenbach, Nick and Pat Keenan, Johan Cloete and his daughter Tracy and Jan Eklund. The weather was magnificent, clear skies and a slight chill in the air. We proceeded in convoy to the mine site and waited there for the game warden to arrive. As you may know if one stops in a game park everybody else stops to see what you have spotted. We had to keep telling the park visitors we were here for the rocks and not the animals, strange looks we did get! The warden was fashionably late and Allan had to drive off to see if he could get a cell signal (no signal in a volcano crater). After phoning, the wardens must have sent a radio message stating that there was a mob of impatient hammer wielding rock-hounds at the mine, because within the space of five minutes we saw as many Park Officials. Our warden, Mark, arrived, sporting a rifle. He meant business! He told us to look ahead of us for predators and we said that we couldn’t do that because we have to look on the ground for rocks. After Mark gave us a briefing on what to do in case we came across a lion, rhino or elephant, we set off by foot keeping our eyes trained to the ground.


Rockhounds looking for herring bone fluorite on the stockpiles outside of the now abandoned Moepe Mine

The site is a short distance from the road on the side of a hill. On the way up we passed the mine entrance, which is sealed off. A number of stockpiles of material had been dumped at the entrance to the mine some years back. Apparently it was not a very economical mine. [Editor’s note: according to my source, the owner of the mine discontinued operations because as mining continued the Fluorite grade dropped and it would have been an expensive venture to do borehole explorations]. Everybody found lovely specimens of the ‘Herring Bone’ Fluorite. The cutters among us could not resist taking a few lumps of this purple ore to see how it cuts or even to try and make a sphere. After an hour we had completely forgotten that we were in a game park. Thank Heavens Mark had been keeping watch or one of us could have been a tasty snack for the resident Leopard rumored to be living near the mine!

After refreshments at the Pilansberg Centre, we made our way to the Lenong View site. The view was breathtaking and one could clearly see the prominent ridges of this volcanic intrusion. At around 2 PM we decided to ‘call it a day’. But the animals had other ideas, on the way they almost seemed to line the road on purpose, zebra, giraffe, rhino, elephant, hippo, and near Bakabung gate a warthog ran across the road. (No lion were seen; they were still around the old mine.)

A thank you and congratulations to Allan Fraser for organising a really great outing.


The view from Lenong, Pilansberg