Please note: Unfortunately the mine area is presently closed to the public until further notice. Our apologies for the inconvenience.
The Jagersfontein Open Mine is the world oldest diamond mine of its kind. It is almost two years older than the mine at Kimberley. The South Africa diamond mining industry is older than its gold mining history and therefore Jagersfontein is even older than other mining towns such as Pilgrim’s Rest. Jagersfontein was founded in 1870 – and is considered to be the “Birthplace of the South African Mining Industry”.
Jagersfontein is the first place in the world where a diamond was found in its mother stone – the blue ground, or as later called “kimberlite”. Eight of the two-dozen biggest diamonds in the world came from the Jagersfontein mine. The Reitz Diamond (later called the Jubilee) of 972.75 carats was found here in 1893. The present day value of this diamond is estimated to be as much as R1.2billion. It is second only in size to the Cullinan Diamond. The so-called Jagger diamonds are world renowned for their size, quality, colour and clarity. Both Al Capone and Elizabeth Taylor are said to have worn Jagger diamonds.
The Jagersfontein big hole was dug by hand from 1870 to 1909 and it is claimed to be the world’s biggest vertical hand dug open hole. It is estimated that the hand-dug portion of the mine went down to 275m. The top surface area of the hole is 19.65ha (in comparison to the Kimberley hole’s 17ha). The Jagersfontein hole is also vertically sided, while the Kimberley hole tends to be funnel-shaped before becoming vertical – therefore the Jagersfontein hole is also bigger in volume.
Eventually mining was continued by means of an underground shaft of about 1000ft deep, but it is the hand-dug portion of this hole that makes it unique. Unfortunately the hole was closed to the public until 1992, but now visitors are welcome and a small museum / information centre has been established. The hole walls have become home to a nesting pair of Verreaux (Black) Eagles. Visitors can also venture out over the hole by means of a viewing platform – truly spectacular. Donations from visitors will be used for the upkeep and further development of the big hole as a tourist site.