Gamagara Local Municipality comprises of an area of 2619 square kilometres, and is located in the North Eastern sector of the Northern Cape, on the N14 National Road between Upington and Vryburg. It is approximately 200km North East of Upington and 280km North West of Kimberley.
The municipal area of Gamagara consists of 5 towns, Kathu, Shesheng, Dibeng, Dingleton, and Olifantshoek, a large farming area and a considerable mining area. The single largest factor that has guided the development of the Gamagara area is the iron ore mine at Sishen. Not only does the mine provide jobs to thousands of people, but it was also the reason for the establishment of the town of Kathu. Kathu is the largest town within the municipality and is also the administrative centre of the Gamagara Local Municipality. Olifantshoek is the second largest town and is of the Gamagara River to the northwest of Kathu. Dingleton is the smallest of the 5 towns and is located in the centre of the mining activities directly south of Kathu.
This is the only town lying at the foot of the Langeberg; Olifantshoek is a farming town close to two game ranches on the Namakwari Route.
Founded in 1895, the village is called the ‘Gateway to the White and Roaring Sands’, 78km south of the town. The town was founded in 1897. The town used to be the land of the Tswana, where tribes like Batlhaping and Batlharo used to dwell. Olifantshoek boasts an abundance of adventure, natural wonders and cultural artefacts that can be explored by all enthusiasts.
It is Northwest of Kathu, Northeast of Kuruman and Southwest of Upington. In the year 2000 Olifantshoek Municipality became part of Tsantsabane Local Municipality until 2006 when it was amalgamated into Gamagara Local Municipality. The town is a low/medium density residential area, but due to the new developments which are underway it will in future becomes high density residential area. Other developments include a 18 hole golf course.
Dibeng started off as a small settlement on the banks of the Gamagara River which provided water for the small-holdings that run the full length of town. The residential areas are characterized by the river in the centre of town and the rocky limestone outcrops directly east and west of the river.
Dibeng consists entirely of single residential houses, but can be split into a low density area to the west and higher density and less formal houses to the east. Dibeng was given its name by the Tswana and means "first drinking place". This small town is situated on the banks of the dry Gamagara River. Residents have to provide their own water and every property has its own wind pump, therefore Dibeng is sometimes referred to as "the sunflower town".
Sesheng is located to the west of Kathu and was initially planned as, a high density residential area for mine workers, without families of any social structure. It consists of group housing units that belong to the mine to the west, with small pockets of other houses to the west thereof. The larger residential housing component of Sesheng is located nearer to Kathu in the form of single residential houses (Ext 5). The area to the east of Sesheng is the fastest growing residential area outside of Kathu.
Kathu,‘the town under the trees’, came into being because of Iscor’s iron ore mining activity in the Kalahari. Municipal status was allocated to the town of Kathu during July 1979. Kathu is connected by rail (Dingleton Station) via Kimberley as well as by road to all the main centres namely Johannesburg, Bloemfontein, Windhoek and Cape Town and has an airport with a tarmac runway. The municipality originally consisted of 2 towns namely Sishen and Kathu. Iskor started developing the town of Sishen in 1953 – south of the mining area. On 23 June 1990 the name Sishen was changed to Dingleton. Development to the new town, Kathu, began in 1974 after proclamation was finalized in 1972.
Kathu, 1230 meter above sea level, is one of the most beautiful and modern towns in the country. It is situated in the Kathu-bush, which mainly exist of majestic camel thorn trees. In 1994 this extensive bush area together with the salt pans, rich in pre-historic foundings, was proclaimed as a nature reserve heritage. There are more than 200 different bird species to be found in these bush areas. The gathering of camel thorn pods used as livestock fodder makes a useful income for many who are jobless.
One of the main attractions for visitors is the Sishen Mine, which is one of the largest open iron ore mines in the world. An eye-catching sight for visitors is the gigantic iron ore trucks with loads of up to 220 ton. The ore railway line from Sishen to Saldanha had the distinction of being the longest iron ore carrier in the world. Some of the world's longest ore trains travel through harsh territory on the Sishen-Saldanha railway to offload their cargo at Saldanha Bay. Kumba Iron Ore Ltd is the principal mine operator in Kathu.
Well equipped recreation facilities of the highest quality with a variety of sports facilities, including one of the most beautiful golf courses in the country and Olympic standard swimming bath, as well as modern club and conference facilities are available to the sports enthusiast.