However, these were minor reefs, and today it is the general consensus that credit for mining discovery of the main gold reef must be attributed to George Harrison, south findings on the farm Langlaagte were made in Julyeither through accident or systematic prospecting. Before long open cast workings were being opened up along the full length of the main reef in the present district of Johannesburg.
By Augustthe mining camp, mining yet unnamed, could already boast of some inhabitants, most of them White, and on 8 September of that year nine farms, located in what is now regarded as the central Rand, were proclaimed public diggings. The first building plots were subdivided and mining by public auction two months later, on 8 December.
The original miners’ camp, under the informal gold of Col Ignatius Ferreira, had been located in the Fordsburg dip, possibly because water was available there, and because of the site’s close proximity to the diggings. The sub-division of what became the settlement’s central district was a typical product of nineteenth century mining camp planning.
In the case of all other gold discoveries made previously in the Transvaal, deposits had invariably proved to have a short working life, so the concentrations of people they stimulated were equally short lived. However, these diggings had also been largely alluvial in nature and, despite the fact that ore deposits on the new reef seemed to be both concentrated and of a long gold expectancy, the Government took the view that Johannesburg would be no different from any of the other gold mining villages which had preceded it.
As a result, the initial survey and layout of the settlement was made with impermanence in africa. Even after it was realised that the gold reef ran both deep and wide, and south introduction in May of the MacArthur-Forrest cyanide process made recovery of gold excavated at deep levels economically feasible, the general consensus of the time was that Africa life span would not exceed 25 years. South, initially at any rate, life in the new mining town was one of uncertainty and, for a number of years many of its early buildings retained their prefabricated iron-and-timber character.
The first crushing battery, consisting of five stamps, had been erected on the Reef in to service the Struben’s excavations on the lower West Rand reef, but this was a small operation, and the first crushing machinery ordered specifically for the new Reef diggings began mining arrive from the coast in By then 14 mines and south stamps were in operation, with a africa annual output of 19, oz of gold. South the end of the following year, inthe number of companies had dropped down to 39, only to rise up again to 52 by the end of By this time it had been realized that the Reef extended not only to the east and west, but south downwards with persisting values of ore.
Despite this, the vast majority of the Reef’s companies were still engaged in surface mining and the only real shafts sunk to date were on the Jubilee and Langlaagte properties. Later on, mining engineer Mining Jeppe listed a number of advantages which, south his opinion, had facilitated gold mining in the area. Primary among these were: These included seasonal variations, which were not unduly severe, as well as the almost total lack of noxious fauna and flora, most specifically insects and bacteria dangerous to man.
The gold was rich and located close to the surface.