Men have mined areas since the beginning of civilization. Items such as metals, stone, ceramics and iron have been taken from the ground since early times.
One of the oldest known mines that is on record is the Lion Case in Swaziland. Scientists have dated the rocks in the Lion Cave mine and found they are about 43,000 years old. There is evidence that early Paleolithic humans mined hematite, which is rich in Iron.
It is believed that the early humans took this hematite and ground it up to produce red ochre pigment. The mine is located in the Ngwenya Mountains in the present day Kingdom of Swaziland. They mined the iron ore to obtain pigment, which was a type of paint of the time.
In 1967 when investigating the site, the Swaziland Iron Ore Development Company got excited when they realized that someone had removed over 100,000 tons of material from the site. The site was first discovered in 1947 about 20 years before, but no one really took the time to figure out how much had been removed from the site, it was just thought that early man had mined there.
Because the commercial company suddenly discovered how much had been removed they felt that it was a historical site that should belong to the public at large. Soon interested academics and college researchers began to explore the site.
It was the researchers themselves that named the site Lion Cave and they even found a couple of old human skeletons in the rubble that was buried. These skeletons dated to 20,000 B.C. and were thought to both be miners that had died while mining the hematite.
They discovered stone mining tools along with fragments of iron that were 40,000 years old, The mine itself has been largely destroyed but lays in the same area behind modern mining operations.