In April 1948, a mine surveyor, Oscar Weiss, sunk a borehole on the farm St Helena. He was in search of water, but instead found lava, and beneath it a thick seam of gold-bearing ore linked to the gold reefs of the Witwatersrand. This discovery marked the beginning of the Free State gold rush and also gave the area its name. “Lejweleputswa” means “grey stone” and refers to the unprocessed gold-bearing rock that is found here.
Although gold is still mined in the region, it is expected that the ore will be depleted in approximately 20 to 30 years from now. Alternatives are already being put into place to ensure that economic survival will remain possible after the gold mines have been worked out.
Fortunately, the region is blessed with adequate summer rainfall and fertile soil that make it ideal for most types of farming. Lejweleputswa lies at the heart of the Maize Triangle, where golden yellow maize fields stretch from horizon to horizon.
The Lejweleputswa Region is the fourth most important manufacturing district in the country six mines are in operation here and industries are expanding rapidly. The city of Welkom is the industrial capital of the region.