Diamond Mining, Kimberley, South Africa

Special Collections > Keystone Slides
tiff scanned file from original glass slide
An ostrich hunter, in 1869, by accident came across a few diamonds that had been found near the Vaal River. The word soon spread. Everybody thereabouts began hunting for diamonds. In 1871 a stone worth $56,000 was found in the wall of a mud hut. Then came a great rush of miners. In 4 years 10,000 men were digging all about the river for diamonds. Finally the deposit was located, near what is now the city of Kimberley in Cape Town province. The diamonds lie in a blue earth many feet below the surface. On top of the blue layer is a layer of limestone. Above this, and covering the surface, is red sand. All the diamond mines about Kimberley are in an area 6 miles across. Shafts are sunk to tap the blue earth, and this is dug loose and loaded in small steel hand cars such as you see here. The cars are lifted to the surface and the earth dumped on leveled ground. The rain pulverizes the clay, and the diamonds are washed free. Most of the actual digging is done by native blacks. But white men are in charge. One of the problems of the companies owning the mines is to keep the workmen from stealing the stones. To prevent this the men are treated almost like prisoners. All day they work in the mines. At night they are guarded in a walled pen. Even then many stones are stolen. One of the unusual ways of concealing the stones is by swallowing them. For many years the Kimberley output of diamonds amounted yearly to over $20,000,000. Kimberley is a city of 30,000 people, half of whom are native blacks. The city owes its prosperity to the mines. Which way is Kimberley from Cape Town? Keystone ID: 17026 Note: All titles, descriptions, and location coordinates are from the original Keystone Slide documentation as supplied by the Keystone View Company. No text has been edited or changed.
Copyright by the Keystone View Company. The original slides are housed in McConnell Library's Special Collections.