The Kimberley hole, often referred to as the Big Hole, is a famous diamond mine located in Kimberley, South Africa

The Kimberley hole, often referred to as the Big Hole, is a famous diamond mine located in Kimberley, South Africa. It is renowned for being one of the largest hand-dug excavations in the world. Here are some key points about the Big Hole:

1. History and Origins

The Big Hole was dug by hand from 1871 to 1914. It started as a simple hill, but the discovery of diamonds led to extensive digging by thousands of prospectors.

2. Size

The Big Hole is approximately 463 meters wide and 240 meters deep, although the bottom is now partially filled with water, making it look like a large, deep lake.

3. Diamonds

The mine yielded an estimated 2,720 kilograms (about 6,000 pounds) of diamonds during its operation. The diamonds from this mine contributed significantly to the wealth and fame of the De Beers diamond company.

4. Tourist Attraction

Today, the Big Hole is a major tourist attraction in Kimberley. There is a museum on-site that provides visitors with historical information, displays, and even a chance to view some of the diamonds extracted from the mine.

5. Historical Significance

The Big Hole is a testament to the diamond rush that significantly impacted the economy and development of the region. It also highlights the lengths to which humans have gone in the pursuit of precious minerals.

The site is now well-preserved and offers insights into the history of diamond mining and its impact on the region.

The Big Hole in Kimberley, South Africa, has a rich and fascinating history closely tied to the diamond mining industry. Here's a detailed overview:

Early Discovery and Initial Rush 1866

The first diamond discovery in South Africa occurred near the Orange River. This find, known as the Eureka Diamond, led to increased interest in the region.

- **1869**: The discovery of the Star of South Africa diamond further fueled the diamond rush, attracting thousands of prospectors to the area.

Formation of the Big Hole

- **1871

The De Beers farm, owned by brothers Diederik and Johannes de Beer, became the site of extensive diamond discoveries. Prospectors flocked to the area, marking the beginning of the digging that would eventually create the Big Hole.


The Big Hole was excavated entirely by hand using picks, shovels, and dynamite. Thousands of miners, often working under harsh and dangerous conditions, removed an estimated 22.5 million tons of earth, producing around 2,720 kilograms (about 6,000 pounds) of diamonds.

Development and Operations

- **1873

The mining area was organized into claims, and the operation became more structured, although still chaotic with many individual miners working side by side.



Cecil Rhodes, a prominent businessman, consolidated the numerous smaller claims and operations under De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited, establishing a monopoly in the diamond mining industry.

Late 1800s to Early 1900s

Technological advancements and increased capital investment improved mining efficiency and safety. However, the working conditions remained tough, and labor disputes were common.

Decline and Closure-


The Big Hole ceased operations as the surface mining became less viable and economically feasible. By this time, underground mining techniques were being developed and utilized in other nearby mines.

- **Post-1914**: The area was slowly abandoned as miners moved to other, more profitable sites.

Historical and Cultural Significance

Tourist Attraction

In the years following its closure, the Big Hole became a major tourist attraction. The Kimberley Mine Museum was established, featuring historical buildings, artifacts, and exhibits related to the diamond rush and mining history.


Efforts have been made to preserve the site as a heritage landmark, highlighting its significance in the history of diamond mining and its impact on South Africa's economy and development.


The Big Hole remains a symbol of the diamond rush era and the human endeavor to extract valuable resources from the earth. It is a testament to the labor and determination of thousands of miners and the transformative power of natural resource discoveries on a region's history and economy.


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