How to Train a Gold Miner
The year is 1976. It is estimated by the Deutsche Bank that the
total weight of all the gold in the world, and this includes coins
and jewelry and ingots and such…it is estimated that the total
accumulation of all this gold weighs roughly 154 million pounds.
Melt it all up into a cube, and the cube will measure 50 feet on
all three sides. Now, for you mathematicians, world gold production
increases this weight every year by 2.6 millions pounds. So that
today, 1998, all the gold in the world will weigh…what?
Now then…who do you think the top gold producer in the world is?
How many of you think it’s the Soviet Union? Or Canada? Or the good
old U.S. of A? Wrongo my fellow fellows. It’s South Africa. It’s
their living folks. In '74 they had a total gold production worth 6
billion dollars. You’re talking nine zeros by the American
methodology, twelve zeros by English standards. Their billion and
our billion just ain’t the same.
In the beginning of it all, circa 1850’s, South Africans had no
interest in gold. Poor deluded fools that they were, they valued
the quality of life over mercenary interests. They were peaceful
farmers back then…they didn’t want to change the way they
lived… prospecting in fact, was prohibited.
But wiser minds prevailed, and money superseded bucolic interests.
It’s 1886. Johannesburg is founded. A gold fever awakens the land.
The population rises from 3000 to 100,000 in nothing flat. English
engineers set up mills to refine the metal. Mines are built.
Miners are culled.
- 14 percent of world gold production is now coming out of
South Africa. South Africans lose their independence.
Ahh…progress. England entrenches herself more deeply into the
African economy. The land is ravaged. For every ounce of gold
found, 3 to 4 tons of rock have to be ground up. The surface gold
is playing out. We’ve got to dig deeper men. Down. Down down down.
1000 feet, 5000 feet, 10,000…no…13,000 feet. It’s hot down
there. 120 degrees in tunnels so narrow and man can only crawl
through it. The pressure of the rock is so great that a simple
cough can cause a slide. Holy cow. What if somebody farts? No. I
didn’t say that. Did I?
So what to do…what to do? Train the men folks. Build an army of
super miners. There’s no shortage of labor. 400,000 man from the
Bantu tribes are culled. Their mining contracts are for 6 to 8
months in duration. Training begins. But only after a thorough
physical. You want to torture a man, first you make sure he’s
healthy. You want to make sure he doesn’t suffer heat stroke. Have
him shovel piles of stones over a low wall for days on end. An
overseer teaches him how to shovel in order to achieve maximum
Now…time for the heat training. Send them into a heated humid
room. 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Have him step up and down a stone
step continuously. Day one…mandatory performance is 12 steps a
minute. The rate increases. After a week, the man is doing 24 steps
a minute. His body is now accustomed to heat strain. He’s a
miner…ready to descend. Oh joy oh joy. And to think he even
though of giving up his pastoral existence for this. Poor deluded
And there ya have it.
That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.
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