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Jade Davenport, the author of Digging Deep, has written a very readable book on the historic contribution that mining has made in developing South Africa into a modern industrial state. It is not necessarily a must-read for people in the mining industry, but the book is well written and should be seen as a South African mining biography.

Digging Deep can be regarded as an anthology, each component of which can be read in isolation, but with a thread that links the parts into the complete story of the vital role that the mining industry played in this country’s economic and political history. I would, however, recommend that the chapters be read in sequence. The book will be of interest to a broad spectrum of South African readers, as it is not a book on the technical aspects of the industry. There is, however, sufficient detail that will allow mining professionals to find it a satisfying read. The history is clearly well researched and is detailed enough to help the reader get a good perspective of the social, political, and economic impact on the development of South Africa. In essence, it should have general appeal.

Although replete with the names of key players in the history of mining and details of production and costs, the book remains an easy read. However, the terminology may be unfamiliar to the general reader, and footnotes on the relevant pages would have been helpful. The author has tried to use the relevant terms in the historical context of currency of the day and imperial/metric systems, but has deviated occasionally in parts of the book. In an early chapter, an attempt is made to equate the value of money then in use to the current rand.

The author is to be commended for writing the book in such a way that each chapter’s history is complete, yet linked along the historic path to the other chapters.

Digging Deep, by Jade Davenport, is published by Jonathan Ball.

The reviewer
Nap Mayer was involved in the mining industry from 1960 to 2000 with experience in copper, diamonds, coal, and gold. As Managing Director of Anglo American’s Gold and Uranium Division, he served on the Anglo American Board as an Alternate Director. He also served on the Atomic Energy Board as Vice- Chairperson for a three-year period from 1996. Nap is a retired, corporate member of the SAIMM.

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