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Friday, 15 May 2009

One Of The Deepest Holes In The World - Excavated By Hand

The Kimberly hole, best known as the "Big Hole" is a huge open-pit situated in South Africa in the northern corner of the Cape Province. It is claimed to be one of the deepest holes excavated by hand, with the help of picks and shovels. Just for completeness´s sake, the deepest hand dug hole in the world is Jagersfontein mine, which also happens to be situated in South Africa (Free State Province)
The story of the "Big Hole" relates back to the discovery of the first diamond on the banks of the Orange River in 1866 by a young boy called Erasmus Jacobs, the son of a farmer. One day while Erasmus was out walking, he happened to look down and found a shinny stone at his feet. Little did he know that the stone that he had found was an enormous and valuable diamond of 21.25 carats. It was later named the "Eurika". "Eurika" is a word in ancient Greek for “I’ve found it”. The gem called the Star of South Africa, an 83,50 carat diamond was also found, in the area where Erasmus lived, by a Sheppard boy who traded the stone for five hundred sheep, ten oxes and a horse.
People all over the world headed for South Africa when they heard of the treasure to be found there. A young Englishman serving a jail term in a British military camp in the Griqualand region was put to work digging, and like Erasmus, made a major discovery. The camp was then renamed Kimberly, and became in later years a center of the diamond-mining industry.
In this open cast 2.722kg of diamonds were mined until it closed in 1914. Today there remains only a massive crater which is about 214m deep with a surface area of 17 hectares and a perimeter of 1.6 km. The crater, has become a major tourist attraction luring people from all over the world to view this archeological wonder from a viewing platform that is exactly the size of a 19th century mining claim. The old town, has also been brought back to life, it has buildings that have been preserved or restored to their original glory.

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