Last weekend Mr. Deep and I visited a town called Cullinan located in Gauteng near the border of Mpumalanga province about one and a half hours from where we live. While we were there we took a fascinating tour inside the Cullinan Diamond Mine. Prior to this adventure my knowledge of mining was limited to what I learned while watching Coal Miner's Daughter. I had never been near let alone inside a mine. The Cullinan mine is well known because the world's largest diamond was found there in 1905. Today, pieces cut from that diamond are found in Queen Elizabeth's crown and scepter. The Cullinan Diamond mine remains operational today.
We booked our tour with a company called Cullinan Tours. They offer numerous surface tours (you stay on the surface of the earth instead of going inside it) throughout the week but the only time the underground tour is held on the weekend is on Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. Even though Mr. Deep and I don't sleep all that late these days, it was still an effort to get from where we were staying about 35 minutes away from Cullinan by 8:00 a.m. When we arrived, we were also confused about exactly where to go and had to call the tour company for clarification. Luckily, we were just around the corner from where we needed to be and we managed to arrive by 8:00. When we got there they were just opening up shop and we quickly realized there had been no need to rush.
|Mr. Deep standing next to a replica of the Cullinan Diamond Mine.|
We were introduced to George our tour guide. Mr. Deep and I estimate that George is at least 80 years old. He said he worked in the mine for 38 years and retired in 1993 - thanks to Mr. Deep for his help with the math on this one. George is what Mr. Deep accurately described as a hoot. In addition to having a great personality George was extremely knowledgeable about the history and workings of the mine. He was the best tour guide I've ever had at any museum or anywhere as his presentation and the information he shared with us was not canned at all. The guide and the tour were 100% genuine. As we visited the mine we observed what would have been happening on that day had we been there or not.
|George gave us a short tour of the Cullinan Diamond museum and educated us about kimberlite, which is a blueish rock where diamonds may be found.|
|Cullinan Diamond Mine.|
|Every few minutes huge dumpsters full of rock are brought to the surface via these shafts. I am not sure how much rock they bring up each day but they get 65 carats from each 100 tons of rock.|
|I told you this tour was genuine!|
|The Afrox pack.|
|The seven steps.|
|Mr. Deep getting his Afrox pack.|
|The Afrox pack. Step one is to open the box. I do remember that.|
|George helping me with my headlamp.|
|Ready to go in!|
|This is the cage that took us down into the mine.|
|We were going to 763 level. That's 763 meters down (2500 feet.) They are currently mining at level 763 and level 839 is still under construction.|
|Safety warning in the cage. While important it was a little bit funny.|