This silent 1950s home movie shows some of the mining operations for blue asbestos at Kuruman, South Africa. The entire film was shot outside the mine itself, which was underground (opening visible at 1:46) and you can see ore cars being moved to and from the mine at :33. Ore is moved on a series of conveyer belts (:45) to be processed. At 2:12, a supervisor wearing a pith type helmet pours himself a drink.At 2:15 mine tailings are visible. At 2:42 the scene switches to the blue asbestos mines at Westerburg and Koegas at Prieska. Unfortunately most of the people you see in this film likely died of exposure to asbestos. According to an article on the Internet: "A large part of Prieska's 15,000 population worked in the asbestos mill at the edge of town, for a long time the town's main source of employment; others were employed at local mines. Three thousand residents of the region have already died of asbestos-related diseases, and the list is growing longer by the week. "Prieska is a living graveyard," says Cecil Skeffers, the town's community development worker. He watched his own father die recently, his breath slowly choked away."
At 2:58, men bore into the shored-up rock wall with a drill. At 3:23 ore cars depart the mine via a mechanized cable. At 3:44 they are pushed to be processed. At 3:55 a sifting mechanism is used to find asbestos crystals. At 4:20, children are seen at the mine processing area. At 5:24, another look at the machinery used in processing. At 6:28, a long sweeping shot of what might be the Prieska town, with tailings visible. At 7:00, more rock sifting is shown, distant smoke is likely from the smelter. At around 9 minutes, a segment of the film footage is repeated or "duped".
All the mines shown were located in the Asbestos Mountains range, hills in the Northern Cape province of South Africa, stretching south-southwest from Kuruman, where the range is known as the Kuruman Hills, to Prieska. The range lies about 150 km west of Kimberley and rises from the Ghaap Plateau. The mountains were named for the asbestos which was mined in the 20th century and is found as a variety of amphibole called crocidolite. Veins occur in slaty rocks, and are associated with jaspers and quartzites rich in magnetite and brown iron-ore. Geologically it belongs to the Griquatown series.
Asbestos is a set of six naturally occurring silicate minerals, which all have in common their eponymous asbestiform habit: i.e. long (roughly 1:20 aspect ratio), thin fibrous crystals, with each visible fiber composed of millions of microscopic "fibrils" that can be released by abrasion and other processes. They are commonly known by their colors, as blue asbestos, brown asbestos, white asbestos, and green asbestos.
Asbestos mining existed more than 4,000 years ago, but large-scale mining began at the end of the 19th century, when manufacturers and builders began using asbestos for its desirable physical properties. Some of those properties are sound absorption, average tensile strength, affordability, and resistance to fire, heat, and electricity. It was used in such applications as electrical insulation for hotplate wiring and in building insulation. When asbestos is used for its resistance to fire or heat, the fibers are often mixed with cement or woven into fabric or mats. Asbestos use continued to grow through most of the 20th century until public knowledge (acting through courts and legislatures) of the health hazards of asbestos dust outlawed asbestos in mainstream construction and fireproofing in most countries.
Prolonged inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious and fatal illnesses including lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis (a type of pneumoconiosis). By the 1980s and 1990s, asbestos trade and use were heavily restricted, phased out, or banned outright in an increasing number of countries.
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This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD, 2k and 4k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com