Nearby is the site of an old iron ore mine once built by the Portuguese authorities and Krupp. During 1966-67 a major iron ore terminal was built in the coast by the Portuguese at Saco, the bay just 12 km north of Moçâmedes (present day Namibe). The client was the Compania Mineira do Lobito, the Lobito Mining Company, which developed an iron ore mine inland at Cassinga. The construction of the mine installations and 300 km railway were commissioned to Krupp of Germany and the modern harbour terminal to SETH, a Portuguese company owned by Hojgaard & Schultz of Denmark. The small fishing town of Moçâmedes hosted construction workers, foreign engineers and their families for 2 years. The ore terminal was completed on time within one year and the first 250,000 ton ore carrier docked and loaded with ore in 1967. After independence of Angola from Portugal in 1975, the mining facilities at Cassinga were abandoned at the start of the Angolan Civil War (1975-2002).
In 1976, SWAPO's military wing, PLAN, set up camp in the abandoned town, using it as a logistics hub for the war front 250 km to the south. The camp soon also became a choke point for Namibian refugees from the conflict. In 1978, the site drew the attention of the SADF, resulting in the controversial Battle of Cassinga (also known as the Cassinga Massacre), a South African airborne assault on the camp on 4 May 1978.
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