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The Big Hole.
A sign next to the hole, reading "If all the diamonds recovered from the Kimberley Mine could be gathered together they would fill three cocopans such as these".

The Big Hole, Open Mine or Kimberley Mine is an open-pit mine in Kimberley, South Africa and claimed to be the largest hole excavated by hand.



The first diamonds here were found on Colesberg Kopje by members of the "Red Cap Party" from Colesberg on the farm Vooruitzigt belonging to the De Beers brothers; the ensuing scramble for claims led to the place being called New Rush, later renamed Kimberley.[1] From mid-July 1871[1] to 1914 up to 50,000 miners dug the hole with picks and shovels, yielding 2,720 kilograms (6,000 lb) of diamonds. The Big Hole has a surface of 17 hectares (42 acres) and is 463 metres (1,520 ft) wide. It was excavated to a depth of 240 metres (790 ft), but then partially infilled with debris reducing its depth to about 215 metres (710 ft) since then it has accumulated about 40 metres (130 ft) of water, leaving 175 metres (570 ft) of the hole visible. Once above-ground operations became too dangerous and unproductive, the kimberlite pipe of the Kimberley Mine was also mined underground by Cecil Rhodes' De Beers company to a depth of 1,097 metres (3,600 ft).[2]

There is currently an effort in progress to register the Big Hole as a World Heritage Site.[3]


In 2005, historian Steve Lunderstedt reported after doing intensive research that the Big Hole was actually not the biggest hand-made excavation. By studying historical records of several hand-dug mines, he discovered that the title belongs to the Jagersfontein Mine, another old South African diamond mine. He claims a comparison between the Big Hole and other mines was never made and it was just assumed to be the biggest and used as a selling point for tourism.[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b Roberts, Brian. 1976. Kimberley, turbulent city. Cape Town: David Philip & Kimberley Historical Society
  2. ^ Show mines of South Africa: Kimberley Mine - Big Hole
  3. ^ Bid to plug Big Hole worldwide, News24
  4. ^ Big Hole loses claim to fame, News24

External links

Coordinates: 28°44′19″S 24°45′31″E / 28.73861°S 24.75861°E / -28.73861; 24.75861



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