In 1837 Klerksdorp was founded when the Voortrekkers settled on the banks of the Schoonspruit, which flows through the town.
In August 1886 gold was discovered in the Klerksdorp district and as a consequence, thousands of fortune-seekers descended on the small village, turning it into a town with 70 taverns and even a stock exchange of its own.
Today Klerksdorp is known as “Matlosane”. Together with Rustenburg, Klerksdorp forms the economic heart of North West Province. It is still one of the hubs of the South African gold mining industry, although its importance has been decreasing in recent years.
The Klerksdorp district is also a major player in South African agriculture; important crops that are farmed in the district include maize, sorghum, groundnuts and sunflowers. Klerksdorp has the largest maize storage silo in the South Africa as well as the largest agricultural cooperative in the southern hemisphere, the Senwes Cooperative.
The district is also known for its Sussex cattle herds – the city is the headquarters of the South African Sussex Cattle Breeders Association.