Sunday, November 4, 2012

08: Durban to Kimberley & DeBeers Diamond Mine

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From Durban I was assigned to labor in Kimberley, the diamond city, with Elder Herman J. Smith of Draper. That city is largely on property owned by DeBeers Mines Consolidated. Two mines were being operated in the town area, but the big Kimberley Mine was idle. They mined soft blue shale stone from volcanic pipes. This was hauled to the direct treatment plant where it was broken up and washed with water from the Vaal River. The heaviest of the mud was put into small mine cars with locked covers and hauled to the pulsater plant. Here the mixture is washed further and run over shaking slopped grease tables. The diamonds stick to the grease. Nearly all rough diamonds have the conventional diamond shape. They are cut in half and additional facets are added. An occasional diamond comes in the flat shape. The riches diamond “blue ground” had about one karat per ton of the shaley material dug out. Material discarded at the pulsater plant is largely small flinty or agate-like stone.

DeBeers Work Shops
June 1931
Elder Herman J Smith (l)
Brother Thomas Wilson

Elder Clarence E. Randall in the Pulsator
(Separates diamonds by shaking, flotation, etc.)
Kimberley, July 1931

The following are unidentified photos, but are all probably the diamond mines/area.

All the workers around diamond mines either were white bosses or native convicts or contracted labor. The blacks are kept locked up on the premises. Diamonds are cut on small turntables which revolve. The diamond itself is held in plastic against the turntable, with water and diamond dust applied to the revolving surface to serve as cutting agent. DeBeers Co. with additional mines near Pretoria, monopolizes the diamond market. With large reserves, they could flood the market at any time and break the prices. All ground in the Kimberley area is washed and treated by pulsater as it may be excavated. Illicit diamond burying is forbidden by law but is a common crime. Broken glass is scattered indiscriminately to discourage looking for diamonds. It is forbidden by law to possess an uncut diamond without a permit for digging.

Hart going over.  Match between America and Griqua's.
[There are two similar pictures, one states "Hart going up" another, "Troup clearing the pole."]

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