Palabora Copper Mine

Useful Information

Palabora Copper Mine. Public Domain.
Location: 360 km northeast of Pretoria, close to the Kruger National Park.
(-23.99204, 31.12808)
Classification: MineCopper mine, opencast mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=2,000 m, D=762m
Pore=30,000 ha/d, Pcopper=90,000 ha/a.
Guided tours:
Address: Palabora Mining Company Ltd, 1 Copper Road, Phalaborwa, 1390, South Africa, Tel: +27-15-780-2920, Fax: +27-15-780-2933.
Ba-Phalaborwa Tourism Association, PO Box 14, Phalaborwa, 1390, South Africa, Tel: +27-82-955-7683.
Northern Province Tourism Board, PO Box 1309, Pietersburg. 0700 South Africa, Tel: +27-15-288-0099, Fax: +27-15-288-0094. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1966 open cast copper mining started.
1980 archaeological excavation uncovered a large historic ironsmelting site, complete with furnace.
1996 it was decided to develop a new underground mine to continue operations.
2002 open cast mining ended.


Palabora contains magnetite, vermiculite, apatite, zirconium, titanium and uranium as well as copper. An alkaline igneous complex consists mainly of pyroxenite with occurrences of pegmatites, foskorites and carbonatites. The complex has a surface outcrop of 20 km² which is phosphate-rich. The central zone, called Loolekop is the basis for Palabora's copper production. The highest grades of copper are found in the center with up to 1%, decreasing concentric. Today only ore with a grade of 0.7% remains.


Palabora Copper Mine is South Africa's deepest and largest open cast mine. And it is one of the largest copper mines in the world. The bottom of the open cast pit is today about 230 m below sea level. The diameter of the pit is almost 2,000 m. This makes it the widest man-made hole in Africa.

This mine is a working copper mine, despite the fact that mining went underground in 2002, the pit is not accessible. But it is possible to have a rather close look from the Phalaborwa Copper Mine Lookout.