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In Zambia, the history of industrial and commercial mining is over 115 years. The earlier period, from 1900 to 1920, is least known. It is ignored, passed over, or referred to in passing by academics and non-academics. The earlier period forms the building blocks on which the later more successful mining enterprise in the mid-1920s was anchored. This study looks at this period and discusses the beginning of mining enterprises from the beginning. Colonial rule began with the British South Africa Company, administering the two territories acquiring mining the Barotse concessions in North-Western Rhodesia, followed by an assortment of treaties with a number African chiefs in North-Eastern Rhodesia. As the country did not have geological maps, mineral deposits had to be found by amateur prospectors employed by a number of mining companies. With this support, prospectors fanned parts of the country, looking for valuable and economically exploitable minerals deposits in various parts of the country. Copper deposits were dominant. Some deposits located on sites of ancient mines in the Kafue Hook, Kansanshi, and Bwana Mkubwa were pegged with the help of African chiefs and citizens as guides. Others, such as the zinc and lead found at Broken Hill mine and the Sassare gold in Petauke, were found by sheer luck and chance.

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