Uis tin mine

Information on the world's largest tin reserves located in Namibia.

Uis can be reached by road C35 from the coast towards Khorixas or by C36 from Omaruru. This tiny mining town can not be missed because of huge white hills on the background. The meaning of the name is ''bitter water''. Tin was discovered here in 1911 by Dr. Paul of the German Colonial Gesellschaft. In 1923 Mr. August Stauch who discovered the diamonds at Kolmanskop, bought the known tin deposits in the Usakos, Karibib, Omaruru and Uis districts. These deposits were mined under the name of Namib Tin Mines Ltd.
During the period from 1930 to 1933 - time of depression no tin was produced and in 1938 the mine was acquired by Krupp of Germany.
The plans were laid down to mine Uis pegmatite deposits on a large scale but the outbreak of World War 2 brought this development to a standstill.
After the war the custodian of enemy property sold the mine to Mr. Angus Munro who died in a plane crash which caused another delay in the production plans. In 1958 Imkor Tin (Pty) Ltd bought Uis and other properties that used to belong to Namib Tin Mines. Imkor installed an extraction plant for tin ore producing about 35 tons an hour. In 1966 the company enlarged this plant to handle approximately 100 tons an hour and started building the present town of Uis, including a petrol filling station and a non-profit supermarket for its employees. Imkor built a clinic and arranged a weekly visits by doctors from Omaruru as well as employing a full time nursing sister. The company also made available a weekly visits by Bank Windhoek. Furthermore the company built the school and sports grounds for school competitions. The 25 meter long swimming pool was used for swimming competitions.
At the beginning of 1980 the plant was again enlarged to process 140 tons per hour on a 24 hour basis seven days a week. This produced 100 to 120 tons of cassiterite (tin ore or tin oxide) per month. During the time of Imkor operation the mine allowed the local Damara people to take ore from the open pits to extract ore by means of skotteling and selling the concentrate to the mine. In the old tin mines in England this was known as vanning. A lot of ore was produced by local people in numerous small pits in and outside of the mining property. These activities contributed up to 100 tons per year to the mine output.
The closure of the mine in November 1990 had caused a dramatic fall in local tin production and life of inhabitants. In 1994 the group introduced a small mining project with substantial aid from Sweden Raw Materials Group. A small plant was installed to resume the production from this source. The present production in this plant is 2-3 kg of tin ore per hour.
Ore is produced by drilling and blasting then hand sorted, crushed and refined. Since the mine closure petrol station and supermarket have been taken over by private enterprise. The old mine recreation club, single quarters and some of the houses were taken over and turned into a tourist rest camp, restaurant and a bar.
The tin-bearing pegmatite at Uis lies in a 32 km wide schist belt stretching from Uis to Cape Cross, over a distance of 130 km. Uis is probably the largest tin-bearing pegmatite in the world.
The several old mine houses are for sale and many have been sold to retired people from other parts of the country. Through tourism Uis is developing a new life away from mining activities.

Uis - town in Namibia

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