Inside Kimberly: The Big Hole that Tells South Africa’s Diamond Mining Story
In the 1800s the people of South Africa, especially those living in the Kimberley area in the Northern Cape Province discovered that their lands were filled with the precious white metal called Diamond. The rest is history. A history that would become a core of South Africa for generation and centuries to come and one of such story is simply titled the Big Hole or Tim Kuilmine in Afrikaans.
The Big Hole perhaps is the best place to visit to really understand the story and history of diamond mining in South Africa. Regarded by many historians as the biggest and deepest hand dug pit in the world, the digging of the spot began in 1871 after it had been discovered to contain diamond.
Prior to that it was a farmland, however the discovery led to a mad rush and scramble for spot on the land. Within a short period of time, people from far and near were rushing to the area in a bid to mine diamond and enrich themselves.
This brought all the miners together to dig the land and search for diamonds individually. This worked well and went on for more than four decades (roughly between 1871 and 1915) and by the time the mining activities had come to a standstill and the place closed down in 1914, more than 50,000 miners had taken part in the exploration, digging with shovels, hoes and picks for more than forty years.
The extent of the hole was measured at 790 ft deep from ground level and 462 metres wide making it one of the biggest hands dug holes in modern history even though some argue it is actually the biggest and not just one of the biggest.
Currently, the hole is filled with raining water and has become a major tourist attraction in Kimberley with tourists from far and near regularly visiting the site to see this huge whole with a unique story behind it.