Lesson Plan - Get It!
Where do metals and gems come from? If you said, "Hardware and jewelry stores," you took the easy route! Most natural resources have to be dug out of the ground and refined. This is not as easy as going to the store; read about what it's like to be a miner!
Gold and diamonds are two important items for many couples who are planning to get married.
The happy couples go to the jewelry store and pick out just the right rings to celebrate their marriage. However, few of us think about where items like this come from! One of the most important places in the world to find both gold and diamonds, as well as other important resources, is South Africa.
Find the country of South Africa on the map below. It is the southernmost country on the continent of Africa:
Read more about mining in South Africa.* As you do, write down the answers to these questions:
- When did mining become so important in South Africa?
- What have been some of the problems that came from mining?
- What benefits has mining brought to South Africa?
*Now, take a look at this short reading about mining in South Africa:
Mining in modern South Africa started with an important metal, though one not as precious as gold: copper. The first copper mines were set up there in the 1850s, although copper mining is not as active nowadays. Coal mining was also a major industry in the country. In the year 1866, a teenager working on a farm discovered a truly amazing diamond: the Eureka Diamond. This caused many people to rush to the region to dig for diamonds and get rich quickly! Gold was first discovered on a farm in South Africa in the year 1870. Iron, platinum, and other important metals were also discovered in South Africa.
The rush for gold brought wealth to the country, at least for some people. It also helped cause serious conflicts. The Boer War that started in 1899 was partly caused by a fight over who should control the gold and diamond resources. The promise of great wealth also caused workers to be used and abused at times in South African history.
Mining has helped give South Africa some of the greatest wealth on the continent of Africa. It is one of the top five producers of gold in the world, and one of the most important sources of diamonds.
Share your answers to the above questions with your parent or teacher, then discuss the following together:
- Why are natural resources important?
- What are the most important natural resources where you live?
- How do people get those resources?
Gold, diamonds, and many other metals and minerals bring South Africa a lot of money. Someone has to get those resources out of the ground first, though.
In the Got It? section, take a look at some of the real mines from which workers get those resources.