Tsumeb is a city of 15,000 inhabitants and the largest town in Oshikoto
Oshikoto Region
Oshikoto is one of the thirteen regions of Namibia. The northern part of the region is agricultural, whereas the main economic activities in the southern part are cattle rearing and mining...

 region in northern Namibia
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

. Tsumeb is the home of the world-famous Tsumeb mine, and the "gateway to the north" of Namibia. It is the closest town to the Etosha National Park
Etosha National Park
Etosha National Park is a national park in the Kunene Region of northwestern Namibia. The park shares boundaries with the regions of Oshana, Oshikoto and Otjozondjupa....

. Tsumeb used to be the regional capital of Oshikoto until 2008 when Omuthiya
Omuthiya Gwiipundi is the capital of Oshikoto Region in northern Namibia, situated approximately from Etosha National Park. It has about 5,000 residents...

 was proclaimed a town and the new capital. The area around Tsumeb forms its own electoral constituency
Constituencies of Namibia
Each of the 13 regions in Namibia are further subdivided into electoral constituencies. The number and size of each constituency varies with the size and population of each region. There are currently 107 constituencies in Namibia...

 and has a population of 44,113.

The town and the Tsumeb mine

The name Tsumeb is generally pronounced "SOO-meb". The name is not a derivative of German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, Afrikaans, or English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

. It has been suggested that it comes from Nama and means either "Place of the moss" or "Place of the frog". Perhaps this old name had something to do with the huge natural hill of green, oxidized copper ore that existed there before it was destroyed by mining.

The town was founded in 1905 by the German colonial power and celebrated its 100th year of existence in 2005.

Tsumeb is notable for the huge mineralized pipe that led to its foundation. The origin of the pipe has been hotly debated. The pipe penetrates more or less vertically through the Precambrian Otavi dolomite for at least 1300 m. One possibility is that the pipe was actually a gigantic ancient cave system and that the rock filling it is sand that seeped in from above. If the pipe is volcanic, as some have suggested, then the rock filling it (the "pseudo-aplite") is peculiar in the extreme. The pipe was mined in prehistoric times but those ancient workers barely scratched the surface. Most of the ore was removed in the 20th century by cut-and-fill methods. The ore was polymetallic and from it copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

, lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

, silver
Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal...

, gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

, arsenic
Arsenic is a chemical element with the symbol As, atomic number 33 and relative atomic mass 74.92. Arsenic occurs in many minerals, usually in conjunction with sulfur and metals, and also as a pure elemental crystal. It was first documented by Albertus Magnus in 1250.Arsenic is a metalloid...

 and germanium
Germanium is a chemical element with the symbol Ge and atomic number 32. It is a lustrous, hard, grayish-white metalloid in the carbon group, chemically similar to its group neighbors tin and silicon. The isolated element is a semiconductor, with an appearance most similar to elemental silicon....

 were won. There was also a fair amount of zinc
Zinc , or spelter , is a metallic chemical element; it has the symbol Zn and atomic number 30. It is the first element in group 12 of the periodic table. Zinc is, in some respects, chemically similar to magnesium, because its ion is of similar size and its only common oxidation state is +2...

 present but the recovery of this metal was always difficult for technical reasons. The pipe was famous for its richness. Many millions of tonnes of ore of spectacular grade were removed. A good percentage of the ore (called "direct smelting ore") was so rich that it was sent straight to the smelter situated near the town without first having to be processed through the mineral enrichment plant. The Tsumeb mine is also renowned amongst mineral collectors. Between 1905 and 1996, the mine produced about 30 million tons of ore yielding 1.7 Mt copper, 2.8 Mt lead 0.9 Mt zinc, as well as 80 t germanium. The average ore grade was 10% Pb, 4.3% Cu, 3.5% Zn, 100 ppm Ag, 50 ppm Ge.

It is noted for 243 valid minerals and is the type location for 56 types of mineral. Some of the germanium minerals are only found in this mine.
Tsumeb, since its founding, has been primarily a mining town. The mine was originally owned by the OMEG
Otavi Mining and Railway Company
The Otavi Mining and Railway Company was a railway and mining company in German South-West Africa...

 (Otavi Minen- und Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft) and later by TCL (Tsumeb Corporation Limited) before its closure a few years ago, when the ore at depth ran out. The main shafts became flooded by ground water over a kilometre deep and the water was collected and pumped as far as the capital, Windhoek. The mine has since been opened up again by a group of local entrepreneurs ("Ongopolo Mining"). A fair amount of oxidized ore remains to be recovered in the old upper levels of the mine. It is highly unlikely, though, that the deepest levels will ever be reopened.

The other notable feature of the town is the metal smelter, also owned by Ongopolo Mining.

Sinkhole lakes and the world's biggest meteorite

Near to the town are two large and famous sinkhole
A sinkhole, also known as a sink, shake hole, swallow hole, swallet, doline or cenote, is a natural depression or hole in the Earth's surface caused by karst processes — the chemical dissolution of carbonate rocks or suffosion processes for example in sandstone...

 lakes, Lake Otjikoto and Lake Guinas
Lake Guinas
Lake Guinas is the larger of only two natural lakes in Namibia. It is a sinkhole lake, created by a collapsing karst cave located 32 km north of Tsumeb near the D3043 road....

 ("Gwee-nus"). Guinas, at about 500 m in diameter, is somewhat larger in area than Otjikoto. A pioneering documentary movie about scuba diving
Scuba diving
Scuba diving is a form of underwater diving in which a diver uses a scuba set to breathe underwater....

 in these lakes was made by Graham Ferreira in the early 1970s. The depths of the lakes are unknown, because towards the bottom both lakes disappear into lateral cave systems, so it is not possible to use a weight to sound them. Otjikoto, which has poor visibility (owing to pollution from agricultural fertilizers used nearby), is at least 60 m deep. The water in Guinas is completely clear and well over 100 m deep. Divers who have performed bounce-dives in Guinas to 80 m (strictly speaking, beyond the safe depth for SCUBA
Scuba set
A scuba set is an independent breathing set that provides a scuba diver with the breathing gas necessary to breathe underwater during scuba diving. It is much used for sport diving and some sorts of work diving....

 dives, especially given the altitude of the lake above sealevel) have reported that there was nothing but powdery-blue water below them. Guinas has been in existence for so long that a unique species of fish, Tilapia guinasana, has evolved in its waters.

When South Africa invaded German Southwest Africa, today's Namibia, in 1914, the retreating German forces eventually threw all of their weapon
A weapon, arm, or armament is a tool or instrument used with the aim of causing damage or harm to living beings or artificial structures or systems...

ry and supplies into the deep waters of Otjikoto. Some of the material has been recovered for display in museums.
One of the largest and deepest underground lakes in the world lies a little to the east of Tsumeb, on a farm called Harasib. To reach the water in the cave one has either to abseil or to descend an ancient, hand-forged ladder that hangs free of the vertical dolomite
Dolomite is a carbonate mineral composed of calcium magnesium carbonate CaMg2. The term is also used to describe the sedimentary carbonate rock dolostone....

 walls of the cave for over 50 m. Here, too, SCUBA divers have descended as deep as they have dared (80 m) in the crystal-clear waters and have reported nothing but deep blue below them from one ledge of dolomite to the next with nothing discernible in the depths.

The largest meteorite
A meteorite is a natural object originating in outer space that survives impact with the Earth's surface. Meteorites can be big or small. Most meteorites derive from small astronomical objects called meteoroids, but they are also sometimes produced by impacts of asteroids...

 in the world, called Hoba
Hoba meteorite
Hoba is a meteorite that lies on the farm "Hoba West", not far from Grootfontein, in the Otjozondjupa Region of Namibia. It has been uncovered but, because of its large mass, has never been moved from where it fell...

, lies in a field about forty minutes drive to the east of Tsumeb, at Hoba west. It is a nickel-iron meteorite of about 60 tonnes.


Tsumeb is connected to the national railway network operated by TransNamib
TransNamib is the railway parastatal of Namibia. Organised as a holding company, it provides freight by rail and road as well as passenger services. Its administration is located in Windhoek.-History:...

. Tsumeb was for most of the 20th century the terminus of the line but in recent times the track has been extended a further 260 km to reach Ondangwa. There have been talks of extending the line to Oshikango
Oshikango is a village in northern Namibia and a border post to Angola. Since 2004 it is part of the town of Helao Nafidi but still maintains its own village council. It is the district capital of the Oshikango Constituency...

 and having the Government of Angola build a railroad from the north to connect the two countries together.

The junction for the Ondangwa line is located at the "wrong end" of Tsumeb railway station
Tsumeb railway station
Tsumeb is a mining town in northeastern Namibia.- Transport :It is served by a mostly freight railway. With the extension of the railway towards the Angolan border in 2007, the Tsumeb station finds itself on a dead end, with a new bypass formed by a Triangle provided direct access from the capital...

, leaving it a dead end, though a second triangle
A triangle is one of the basic shapes of geometry: a polygon with three corners or vertices and three sides or edges which are line segments. A triangle with vertices A, B, and C is denoted ....

 is provided for through trains to bypass the station.

Tsumeb has a concrete sleeper
Concrete sleeper
A concrete sleeper is a railroad tie made out of steel reinforced concrete.-History:Concrete sleepers were first made in Germany in 1906 for use between Nuremberg and Bamberg.-Types:...



There are main roads leading north, Ondangwa through to Oshakati
Oshakati is a town of 30,000 inhabitants in the Oshana Region of Namibia. It is the regional capital and was officially founded in July 1966. The city was used as a base of operations by the South African Defence Force during the South African Border War and Namibian War of Independence...

 and Angola
Angola, officially the Republic of Angola , is a country in south-central Africa bordered by Namibia on the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north, and Zambia on the east; its west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean with Luanda as its capital city...

, north-east a new constructed Bituminous Road to Tsintsabis leading to Katwitwi Border Post and Angola
Angola, officially the Republic of Angola , is a country in south-central Africa bordered by Namibia on the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north, and Zambia on the east; its west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean with Luanda as its capital city...

, east, Grootfontein
Grootfontein is a city of 14,200 inhabitants in the Otjozondjupa Region of central Namibia. It is one of the three towns in the Otavi Triangle, situated on the B8 national road that leads from Windhoek to the Caprivi Strip...

 through to Rundu
Rundu is the capital of the Kavango Region, northern Namibia, on the border with Angola on the banks of the Okavango River about 1000 m above sea level. The place normally receives an annual average rainfall of , although in the 2010/2011 rainy season were measured.Rundu grows rapidly...

 and Katima Mulilo
Katima Mulilo
Katima Mulilo is the capital of the Caprivi Strip, Namibia's far north–east extension into central Southern Africa. It comprises two electoral constituencies, Katima Mulilo Rural and Katima Mulilo Urban...

, and south, Otavi
Otavi is a town of 4,000 inhabitants in the Otjozondjupa Region of central Namibia. It is the district capital of the Otavi electoral constituency. Most of the area is dolomitic and the district was in the past renowned for its mineral wealth...

 through to Otjiwarongo
Otjiwarongo is a city of 20,000 inhabitants in the Otjozondjupa Region of Namibia. It is the district capital of the Otjiwarongo electoral constituency and also the capital of Otjozondjupa....

 and Windhoek
Windhoek is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Namibia. It is located in central Namibia in the Khomas Highland plateau area, at around above sea level. The 2001 census determined Windhoek's population was 233,529...



Ohorongo Cement
Ohorongo Cement
Ohorongo Cement operates the only cement factory in Namibia. The Ohorongo Cement Plant is located on Farm Sargberg near Otavi in the Otjozondjupa Region. Today German group Schwenk Zement KG owns 100% of the company, but is investigating Namibian institutional investors.The ground breaking ceremony...

 was established in 2007. The plant is situated between Tsumeb and Otavi
Otavi is a town of 4,000 inhabitants in the Otjozondjupa Region of central Namibia. It is the district capital of the Otavi electoral constituency. Most of the area is dolomitic and the district was in the past renowned for its mineral wealth...

 on Farm Sargberg approximately 45 km south of Tsumeb. The plant has a production capacity of 650000 tpa, almost double the demand of the Namibian domestic market. It is owned by Schwenk KG. Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 reserves appear to be adequate for approximately 300 years.

There are 105 commercial farms around Tsumeb. The area consists largely of rolling hills covered in thorn bush. Tsumeb falls under the dry woodland, savanna
A savanna, or savannah, is a grassland ecosystem characterized by the trees being sufficiently small or widely spaced so that the canopy does not close. The open canopy allows sufficient light to reach the ground to support an unbroken herbaceous layer consisting primarily of C4 grasses.Some...

 vegetation zone. The soil around Tsumeb varies in quality from very fertile red loam
Loam is soil composed of sand, silt, and clay in relatively even concentration . Loam soils generally contain more nutrients and humus than sandy soils, have better infiltration and drainage than silty soils, and are easier to till than clay soils...

 through black turf to chalky clay and loam. The district is thus suitable for intensified farming and crop production. There is an abundance of ground water and regular rainfall in the summer months. Irrigation
Irrigation may be defined as the science of artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall...

 makes the area even more productive. Farmers in the area grow citrus fruits with much success. The main crops grown are maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

, sorghum
Sorghum is a genus of numerous species of grasses, one of which is raised for grain and many of which are used as fodder plants either cultivated or as part of pasture. The plants are cultivated in warmer climates worldwide. Species are native to tropical and subtropical regions of all continents...

 and sunflowers. Cattle farming is also widespread.

Local authority results, 2010

In the 2010 local authority election
Namibian local and regional elections, 2010
Namibia held elections for their local and regional councils on 26 and 27 November 2010. The terms of regional councillors and local authority representatives were originally set to expire in 2009...

, a total of 3,120 votes were cast in the city. SWAPO won with approximately 75% of the vote. Of the four other parties seeking seats, RDP
Rally for Democracy and Progress (Namibia)
The Rally for Democracy and Progress is an opposition political party in Namibia. It was launched on November 17 2007 under the leadership of Hidipo Hamutenya and Jesaya Nyamu, both former leading members of the ruling SWAPO party and cabinet ministers. Hamutenya had unsuccessfully sought the SWAPO...

 received approximately 15% of the vote, followed by UDF
United Democratic Front (Namibia)
The United Democratic Front is a political party in Namibia. Justus Garoëb is the party's leader.-1989:The UDF received 37,874 votes in the 1989 election, which elected members to the Constituent Assembly of Namibia. The Constituent Assembly elected the first President and wrote Namibia's...

 (5%), APP
All People's Party (Namibia)
The All People's Party is a political party in Namibia.Registered with the Electoral Commission of Namibia in January 2008, the party was initially made up primarily of former members of the Congress of Democrats and SWAPO political parties...

 (2%), DTA (2%) and, despite being on the ballot, the Congress of Democrats
Congress of Democrats
The Congress of Democrats is a political party in Namibia, led by Ben Ulenga. It is an opposition party represented in the National Assembly.The party is an observer of the Socialist International.- 2004 elections :...

 did not receive a vote.


Tsumeb has a humid subtropical climate
Humid subtropical climate
A humid subtropical climate is a climate zone characterized by hot, humid summers and mild to cool winters...

 (Cwa, according to the Köppen climate classification
Köppen climate classification
The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification systems. It was first published by Crimea German climatologist Wladimir Köppen in 1884, with several later modifications by Köppen himself, notably in 1918 and 1936...

), with hot summers and mild winters (with warm days and chilly nights). It borders on a semi-arid climate (BSh). The average annual precipitation is 528 mm (21 in).

Minerals of Tsumeb

Tsumeb belongs to the world's most prolific mineralogical sites, famous especially thanks to both beautiful and rare secondary minerals of Pb, Cu, Zn, As, Sb and, what is characteristic and reflects the ore chemistry, Ge, Ga and Cd. Minerals first described from Tsumeb include, according to Mindat.org
Mindat.org is a non-commercial online mineralogical database, claiming to be the largest mineral database and mineralogical reference website on the internet....

  • rare (but also a few common) arsenates: andyrobertsite, arsenbrackebuschite, arsendescloizite, arsentsumebite, biehlite
    Biehlite is an exceptionally rare mineral, an antimony arsenic bearing molybdate with formula [O]2MoO4. It comes from Tsumeb....

    , calcioandyrobertsite, chudobaite, duftite
    Duftite is a relatively common arsenate mineral with the formula CuPb, related to conichalcite. It is green and often forms botryoidal aggregates. It is a member of the Adelite-Descloizite Group, Conichalcite-Duftite Series. Duftite and conichalcite specimens from Tsumeb are commonly zoned in...

    , ekatite, fahleite, feinglosite, ferrilotharmeyerite, gaitite, gebhardite, gerdtremmelite, helmutwinklerite, jamesite, johillerite, keyite, koritnigite, leiteite, ludlockite, lukrahnite, molybdofornacite, o'danielite, prosperite, reinerite
    Reinerite is a rare arsenite mineral with chemical formula Zn32. It crystallizes in the orthorhombic crystal system.-Physical properties:...

    , schneiderhöhnite, schultenite, sewardite, stranskiite, thometzekite, tsumcorite, warikahnite
    Warikahnite is a rare zinc arsenate mineral of the triclinic crystal system with Hermann- Mauguin notation 1*, belonging to the space group P1*. It occurs in the second oxidation zone of the Tsumeb mine in Namibia on corroded tennantite in the second oxidation zone under hydrothermal conditions in...

    , wilhelmkleinite, zincgartrellite and zincroselite
  • unique germanium
    Germanium is a chemical element with the symbol Ge and atomic number 32. It is a lustrous, hard, grayish-white metalloid in the carbon group, chemically similar to its group neighbors tin and silicon. The isolated element is a semiconductor, with an appearance most similar to elemental silicon....

     (bartelkeite, calvertite, eyselite, fleischerite, germanite
    Germanite is a rare copper iron germanium sulfide mineral, Cu26Fe4Ge4S32. It was first discovered in 1922, and named for its germanium content. It is only a minor source of this important semiconductor element, which is mainly derived from the processing of the zinc sulfide mineral sphalerite...

    , itoite, krieselite
    Krieselite, 22 is a rare aluminium gallium germanate mineral from Tsumeb. It is a germanium-analogue of topaz....

     (germanate topaz), mathewrogersite, otjisumeite, ovamboite, schaurteite and stottite) and gallium
    Gallium is a chemical element that has the symbol Ga and atomic number 31. Elemental gallium does not occur in nature, but as the gallium salt in trace amounts in bauxite and zinc ores. A soft silvery metallic poor metal, elemental gallium is a brittle solid at low temperatures. As it liquefies...

     (gallobeudantite, söhngeite, tsumgallite) minerals
  • others are: kegelite, minrecordite, otavite, plumbotsumite, queitite, sidpietersite (unique thiosulphate), stibioclaudetite, tsumebite
    Tsumebite is a rare phosphate mineral named in 1912 after the locality where it was first found, the Tsumeb mine in Namibia, well known to mineral collectors for the wide range of minerals found there. Tsumebite is a compound phosphate and sulfate of lead and copper, with hydroxyl, formula Pb2Cu...

     and zincrosasite.

Educational Institutes and Training Facilities

Ground level education as well as high level education is the base and strong hold of any country.Thus uplifting the country's different community prestige. Tsumeb offers just this. It is home to a number of primary and secondary schools as-well as an Adult Education Center, which resorts under the Ministry of Education and Culture,which greatly fulfills a major task in enabling adults to further their education.

Training facilities

  • Namibia Institute of Mining and Technology (NIMT)(Northern campus)
  • Adult Education Center

Secondary Schools

  • Etosha Secondary School (Hoërskool Etosha)
  • Tsumeb Secondary School
  • Oshikoto Seconday School
  • Tsumeb Gymnasium (Namibia)

External links

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