Diamond mine owners and their workers at Kimberly. Image credit wayfarersbookshop.com

ZIMSEC O Level History Notes: South Africa 1867 – 1910: Problems Encountered by the First Miners

  • Diamonds were stolen by labourers through swallowing
  • The holes were usually dug deep and mines were joined making it difficult to identify and distinguish claims
  • Diamond digging required more money when the mines became deeper
  • The mass production of diamonds led to prices becoming low
  • The diamonds found per tonne were low during the late 1870s
  • During the 1870s and 1880s diamond prices fell so selling them was no longer profitable
  • Wage increases became high for claim owners to make profit from 1873
  • Labour supply decreased as most workers were also farmers and went back home during planting time only to come back when they needed money
  • Poor working conditions also scared away many able bodied workers
  • Wages were very little and semi-skilled workers refused to work for low wages
  • Miners did not have machines to cut diamond into different shapes and this resulted in them gaining very little from sales
  • Industrialization replaced the traditional economic methods such as farming and pastoralization and this was new to Africans who found it hard to adapt quickly to the new economic lifestyle
  • Many Europeans became interested in the diamonds and rushed to South Africa leading to conflict among them
  • Several minerals came to scene and this depressed the price of diamonds
  • The Transvaal was invaded and it led to the Anglo-Boer war of 1880-1881

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