OPENING THE CRATERS
present danger hung over the miners from the very outset of their pit
digging in the diamond-bearing funnels. The yellow ground was a breccia
so loose and friable that it was constantly caving in upon the heads of
the diggers. Then the pits were sunk so close together that the walls
gave way and slipped, crumbling into the claims below. A loaded cart,
passing along the edge of a road, would often topple over and sometimes
plunge with driver and mule into the pit below.
on the Alexandersfontein farm was not long continued ; but the
diggings at Dutoitspan, Bultfontein, De Beers, and Kimberley were
ardently opened by swarms of diamond seekers. The surface area covered
by claims was very much larger than the diamond-yielding ground, whose
total extent was, approximately, seventy acres. When the claims were
consolidated by purchase, many years later, the Kimberley open mine
surface was figured to be 33 acres; De Beers, 22 acres; Dutoitspan, 45 acres ; and Bultfontein, 36 acres.
These measurements more than cover the extent of the original
locations, which were as follows: Kimberley, 470 claims, equal to 10.37
acres; De Beers, 622 claims, equal to 13.72 acres; Dutoitspan, 1441
claims, equal to 31.79 acres; and Bultfontein 1067 claims, equal to
23.54 acres. Only a few scattered diamonds were found outside of the
rim of "reef" enclosing the diamond-bearing craters.
To present clearly the progress of mining in the several funnels, it is desirable to trace the advance of each separately