Kimberley, the world capital of diamonds in South Africa

Friday, 18 March 2016 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General
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Big Hole sign © Conrad88/cc-by-sa-3.0

Big Hole sign © Conrad88/cc-by-sa-3.0

Kimberley is the capital of the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. It is located approximately 110 km east of the confluence of the Vaal and Orange Rivers. The city has considerable historical significance due to its diamond mining past and the siege during the Second Boer War. Notable personalities such as Cecil Rhodes and Barney Barnato made their fortunes here, and the roots of the De Beers company can also be traced to the early days of the mining town.

As miners arrived in their thousands the hill disappeared and subsequently became known as the Big Hole (or Kimberley se Gat in Afrikaans) or, more formally, Kimberley Mine. From mid-July 1871 to 1914, 50,000 miners dug the hole with picks and shovels, yielding 2,722 kg of diamonds. The Big Hole has a surface of 17 hectares (42 acres) and is 463 metres wide. It was excavated to a depth of 240 m, but then partially infilled with debris reducing its depth to about 215 m; since then it has accumulated water to a depth of 40 m leaving 175 m visible. Beneath the surface, the Kimberley Mine underneath the Big Hole was mined to a depth of 1097 metres. A popular local myth claims that it is the largest hand-dug hole on the world, however Jagersfontein Mine appears to hold that record. The Big Hole is the principal feature of a May 2004 submission which placed “Kimberley Mines and associated early industries” on UNESCO’s World Heritage Tentative Lists. By 1873 Kimberley was the second largest town in South Africa, having an approximate population of 40,000.

Town hall on De Beers Road © Andrew Hall/cc-by-sa-3.0 St Cyprians Cathedral © PHParsons/cc-by-sa-3.0 Old and first De Beers Head Office © Andrew Hall/cc-by-sa-3.0 Big Hole sign © Conrad88/cc-by-sa-3.0 Kimberley seen from the west © Bjørn Christian Tørrissen/cc-by-sa-4.0
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Kimberley seen from the west © Bjørn Christian Tørrissen/cc-by-sa-4.0
The various smaller mining companies were amalgamated by Cecil Rhodes and Charles Rudd into De Beers, and The Kimberley under Barney Barnato. In 1888, the two companies merged to form De Beers Consolidated Mines, which once had a monopoly over the world’s diamond market. Very quickly, Kimberley became the largest city in the area, partly due to a massive African migration to the area from all over the continent. The immigrants were accepted with open arms, because the De Beers company was in search of cheap labour to help run the mines. Another group drawn to the city for money was prostitutes, from a wide variety of ethnicities who could be found in bars and saloons. It was praised as a city of limitless opportunity.

Today, Kimberley is the seat of the Provincial Legislature for the Northern Cape and the Provincial Administration. It services the mining and agricultural sectors of the region. The city projects itself as a significant tourist destination, the ‘City that Sparkles’, boasting a diversity of museums and visitor attractions. It is also a gateway to other Northern Cape destinations including the Mokala National Park, nature reserves and numerous game farms or hunting lodges, as well as historic sites of the region. Kimberley has hosted significant meetings and conferences, developing a major venue, the Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre, and other conference hosting facilities. Recent gatherings have included the founding meeting of the Kimberley Process (2000) and a follow-up meeting of this organisation in 2013, and the International Indigenous Peoples Summit on Sustainable Development (2002).

Read more on Kimberley, The Big Hole Open Mine Museum and Wikipedia Kimberley (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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