Ch. 4: The Premier

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THE PREMIER
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into the hands of De Beers. After Sir Alfred Beit's visit, De Beers patiently and relentlessly bought up Premier shares, and by 1922 it had won control of the mine. At the end of 1944, though the war was not yet over, the diamond trade was show­ing signs of recovery, and it was decided that the Premier should be outfitted with underground gear and set in motion as the latest thing in diamond mines. It was a lengthy, expensive proc­ess. Five years were spent on it; for ten months of this the engineers merely pumped out water—nine hundred million gal­lons of water. Then, while four shafts were being sunk and development was under way, a model separation plant was set up and tried out. Not until 1950 did the mine go into produc­tion with a full scale plant.
Sir Thomas Cullman's hopeful daring in going so far afield was impressed on me at the beginning of my visit to the Pre­mier. I had been long enough in the Union of South Africa, though that wasn't very long, to have learned the simple rule that Kimberley is for diamonds, Johannesburg for gold, and it seemed unnatural that I should be going to look at diamonds straight from Johannesburg. It didn't make the adjustment any easier to remind myself that the head offices of the Anglo American are themselves in Johannesburg. The travel bureaus, however, are not confused on this point. They are quite content that the Premier should be so easy of access, and a visit to this genuine diamond mine is one of their routine recommendations for a one-day trip; it is something that tourists can easily do even when they haven't the time for safaris to the game re­serve or plane trips over the Victoria Falls. It was not strange that my visit should coincide with the presence of a large party
Ch. 4: The Premier Page of 303 Ch. 4: The Premier
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