For more than a century, a quote sometimes attributed to Mark Twain has led to wry smiles amongst mining investors: 'A mine is a hole in the ground owned by a liar.'
John Hollaway worked on copper mines in Zambia until 1967, when he was transferred to Hwange Colliery. After three years with Hwange, he joined Rio Tinto Rhodesia (now Rio Tinto Zimbabwe), becoming Research and Development Manager in 1975. In this position, he was responsible for developments leading to the creation of a number of new mines, including Renco, Zimbabwe's biggest underground gold operation, and the major Sengwa coalfield. From 1981 he worked as a private consultant to the mining and minerals processing sector of Zimbabwe and beyond, undertaking more than 400 assignments for clients in 35 countries. He has written and presented numerous papers on mining technology and policy.
The World Gold Council thinks that throughout history, less than 200,000 tons of gold have been mined. In 2012, Zimbabwe produced 20 tons. Nonetheless, in that year a major report (well, 150 pages long) commissioned by the Zimbabwe government on the mineral resources of Zimbabwe, estimated that the country contained 13 million tons of gold.
Myth-making continues at the...