The name “Tsumeb” is believed to be a local word derived from the Nama tribal language to describe the occurrence of a small green hill, some 180 metres long by 40 metres wide and 12 metres high, referred to as the “place of moss” or “the green frog”. The original hill was reported by the first European in the area, Sir Francis Galton, in 1851. By 1892, the British South West Africa Company sent a geological expedition under the leadership of Mathew Rogers to examine the copper outcrop. The Otavi Minen- und Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft (OMEG) acquired the mineral rights in 1900 and, by 1906, mining had commenced at Tsumeb.  Production was interrupted by both World Wars and, after World War II the mine was sold by the Custodian of Enemy Property to Tsumeb Corporation Ltd (TCL), in which Newmont Mining was the majority partner. Goldfields of Namibia acquired the mine in 1988 but by 1996, a prolonged labour strike led to the flooding of the lower levels. The mine was repossessed by the Namibian Government and sold to a local company called  Ongopolo Mining, which continued to recover what ore was remaining in the upper levels of the mine before it finally shut down in 1998. Smelter activities continued, but in 2006 Ongopolo was acquired by Weatherly Mining International. 

 Today, Weatherly retains the mining rights at Tsumeb, but the smelter, which is still operating, was sold to Dundee Precious Metals Inc. in 2010.