John Pascoe Grenfell came to southern Africa from England in the 1890's and heard of possibly economically viable copper deposits in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). After active service in the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) he learnt through two prospectors, James Harper and James Campbell, of copper deposits in the Transvaal, just south of the Limpopo River near present Musina. Several of these deposits had been mined in earlier times by the local inhabitants, but activities had ceased.
After the deposits were inspected Grenfell bought the farm Berkenrode on which the copper occurred in October 1903. He obtained a discoverer's certificate in March 1904 and in the same month the village Messina (later Musina) was founded. In January 1905 he set up the Messina (Transvaal) Development Company, destined to become one of the largest companies in South Africa, of which he became chairman. Mining commenced in 1906 and continued to 1991. The mines were concentrated in a north-west striking, 18 km long by 1 km wide belt associated with the Messina fault. In all 750 000 tons of copper were produced.