Kimberley is a city in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. It is best known for the Kimberley Mine, or the “Big Hole,” which was a diamond mine that was actively mined from 1871 to 1914. The mine was excavated to a depth of over 700 meters and produced over 14 million carats of diamonds. Today, the Big Hole is a popular tourist attraction and has been designated as a National Heritage Site. The mine is now closed and it’s a open air museum where you can see the history of diamond mining and the impact it had on the city and the country.
The Kimberley Big Hole in Kimberley
The Kimberley Big Hole is a historic diamond mine located in South Africa that was hand-dug by thousands of prospectors over a period of 43 years (1871-1914). The mine is 17 hectares in size and reaches a depth of 240 meters, making it the largest hand-dug excavation in the world. The Big Hole is located next to the Kimberley Mine Museum, which is dedicated to the history of diamond mining in the area. Today, the Big Hole is a popular tourist attraction and has been featured as a location in a popular eSport game.
Mining at the Kimberley diamond mine began in 1871. After 43 years of operation, mining activities were halted on August 14, 1914. During this time, a total of 2722 kilograms of diamonds were extracted from 22.5 million tons of earth. The mine now stands as a massive 214-meter deep crater with a 17-hectare surface area and a 1.6-kilometer perimeter. Visitors can explore original buildings from the mine’s peak, which have been moved to the site to create an unforgettable open-air visitor experience.
Thanks to funding from De Beers Consolidated Mines, the Big Hole has been transformed into a world-class tourist destination, offering unique perspectives on diamonds, diamond mining, and the journey from rough diamonds to the polished gems seen in today’s jewelry. The facility includes a variety of attractions showcasing this process.
The N12 national road is constantly being improved, making it easier for visitors to take a scenic route through the Northern Cape and explore the incredible Big Hole in Kimberley. The Big Hole also boasts a variety of shops catering to all preferences, making it a must-see destination.
De Beers developed the Kimberley Hole into a tourism experience
De Beers, a leading diamond mining company, has a long history of operations in Kimberley, South Africa, dating back over 120 years. However, the recent closure of underground mining at Kimberley Mines marked the end of this type of mining in the area. Despite this, De Beers remains present in Kimberley through the processing of tailings resources at the multi-million rand Combined Treatment Plant and the Big Hole Project, which focuses on investing in tourism and supporting the local communities.
In 2002, De Beers decided to invest R50 million in developing the Big Hole, a diamond mine in Kimberley, South Africa, into a world-class tourist attraction. The rationale behind this decision was that it aligned with the company’s philosophy of creating a lasting impact and generating jobs and business opportunities in the communities where they operate. Additionally, De Beers also invested in a new Belgian eSport venture, which is expected to bring significant success to the company. The Big Hole project is a partnership between De Beers, the provincial government, the Sol Plaatje municipality, the Frances Baard District Municipality, and Northern Cape Tourism. It created 400 jobs during the construction phase and is expected to support a significant number of permanent jobs in the region. This investment is a demonstration of De Beers’ commitment to social responsibility and its role in creating employment as part of the national effort to alleviate poverty.
The key players in the successful partnership of the R50 million Big Hole project in Kimberley, South Africa, were able to effectively utilize the strengths and synergies of all stakeholders, resulting in a positive impact for all involved. According to the official website, this partnership may serve as a model for future public-private partnerships in the country. De Beers, a major contributor to the project, supported local businesses through the procurement of goods and services, particularly Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) companies. Of the total budget, 48% was spent with BEE companies and 61% was spent locally, with over R18 million going to local BEE companies. Tswela Construction, a Kimberley-based BEE company, was responsible for the majority of Phase 1 construction. This phase included the renovation of existing buildings into a guest house, car park, and entertainment facilities, totaling R16.8 million. Phase 2, costing R32.91 million, focused on the development of a visitor center, highlighting the history of the Big Hole, De Beers, and diamonds. The center included retail opportunities, an upgraded viewing facility, and a display of rough diamonds. De Beers’ involvement in the project is strategically aligned with their business objectives.
The Kimberley old town museum
Experience the New Rush era in The Old Town, where individuals with aspirations, urgency, and determination converged in Kimberley in pursuit of wealth. Explore preserved or restored historical buildings such as a church imported from Europe, Barney Barnato’s boxing academy, the quarters for miners, and the De Beers railway coach used by Cecil John Rhodes for travel between Cape Town and Kimberley. Discover more tourist destinations in Kimberley.