National Geographic : 1952 Mar
An Electric Shovel Gashes the Earth for a Trainload of Copper Ore To a metals-hungry world, the Congo has con tributed nearly 194,000 tons of copper and 6,105 tons of cobalt in a peak year. A large share of the ura nium so vital to the free nations comes from the carefully guarded Shinko lobwe mine at Katanga. The author hoped to bring back a single picture illustrative of the mining boom, perhaps a mountain of ore crawling with thou sands of miners. He was surprised to find vast open pits attended only by a few skilled hands. Power ful American machines did the work of men. Electricity runs this dig ging, the Ruwe pit near Kolwezi, Katanga Prov ince. Shovels, locomotives, and ore-washing plant all depend on power tapped from cascading rivers. Ruwe, strangely, began as a gold mine. After 30 years a huge and unsus pected deposit of copper oxide came to light. To bring the ore within reach, shovel operators removed 12 million cubic yards of overburden, some of it 165 feet thick. That task re quired nine years. Other mines near by yield cobalt as well as cop per. Ores go to Jadotville for electrolytic refining.