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Access to capital to get to that point remains a big challenge. Paul Miller, co-founder of the CCP 12J Fund, which targets low-risk, secondary and ancillary mining projects on existing sites, says junior miners can only exist where three overlapping criteria are in place. The second is that investor sentiment has to be positive.

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The third is that there has to be proper policy and regulation in place. Miller says South Africa is failing on all three aspects.

Working wonders with mine waste

There has been little or no recent exploration using modern techniques, and the resulting information is not widely available. Investor sentiment is toxic.

In the beginning we went to the various financial institutions as well as the Industrial Development Corporation [IDC] but we got nowhere. The IDC wanted pre-feasibility studies but we did not have the funding to do these. Eventually BHP Billiton helped us. Last year the DMR announced it intended to launch a fund with the IDC to help junior miners, but the details remain unclear.

7 Wonders MMT Shangri-La Caratus Gold Mine walkthrough

There have been other efforts in the last decade to launch private equity funds targeting junior mining ventures — with mixed success. There have been two other recent fund launches targeting junior miners using the Section 12J incentives of the South African Income Tax Act. The Anglo Khula Mining Fund, which targets small-scale, black-owned companies, has been around since By , the fund had made 11 investments in companies employing a total of more than people.

Tembo is a private equity group that targets junior and mid-tier opportunities in developing countries.

The Mines and Its Wonders (Dodo Press) by William H G Kingston | Waterstones

ASX-listed Prospect Resources is developing the Arcadia lithium project in Zimbabwe, which it describes as its flagship. The crisscrossing gypsum columns are some of the world's largest natural crystals. Despite its grandeur, visits are nearly impossible to come by due to dangerous conditions: near percent humidity and temperatures as high as degrees, warmed by a pool of magma sitting below the cave.

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  7. The Mines and its Wonders!

There's even been talk of refilling it with water. The real-life setting for a glow-in-the-dark sci-fi spectacular is two hours south of Auckland and the same distance west of Rotorua under Waitomo's rolling green hills. Here caves are filled with arachnocampa luminosa that's New Zealand's indigenous glowworms to you that give off a subtle blue glow due to a chemical reaction occurring in their abdomen.

Explorers venture into UK's hidden underground wonders, in pictures

Enjoy a boat ride that will take you through this galaxy of living lights, strong on sticky webs above. Indulge in a little espionage while visiting the Allegheny Mountain's posh Greenbrier resort, where a bunker was secretly built in to house members of Congress should nuclear war break out. Now declassified, the fallout shelter could have accommodated more than 1, people behind ton blast doors; today, it's a time capsule of Cold War hubris. The unused bunker came equipped with a power plant, decontamination chambers, communications equipment, meeting rooms, and a great hall for joint sessions -- all over two football-field-size levels.

Uncover eons of religious belief at San Clemente Basilica, a 12th-century basilica built on top of a many-frescoed fourth-century church -- itself built over a secular first-century home that stands next to a second-century temple used by an all-male fertility cult worshiping the sun god Mithras. Those with darker leanings can explore the Capuchin ossuary underneath the church of Santa Maria della Concezione, a minute walk away, where the bones of 4, monks were used to artistically decorate the crypt in the form of chandeliers, coats of arms, and archways. Keep a lookout for a toddler's skeleton turned flying grim reaper.

From to , Sicilian immigrant Baldassare Forestiere built himself a subterranean home and garden modeled after the ancient catacombs of his homeland. The intrepid builder and gardener dug some 10, square feet of rooms, a chapel, and even an underground fishing pond using just farming tools. Forestiere's acre creation provides a cool respite from the scorching California sun, with blooming fruit trees reaching to skylights above.

Across the Atlantic, another secret underground bunker got a lot of use as the nerve center of the British war effort in World War II. Occupied by ministers, military personnel, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill from to , the Cabinet War Rooms -- part of the Churchill War Rooms museum -- preserves many of the day-to-day artifacts used in that period, from large maps full of pinpricks indicating changing front lines down to the swivel chair Churchill used while presiding over the War Cabinet.

See all of the world's coolest underground wonders.

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