Cullinan Mine

Premier Diamond Mine


Useful Information

Location: Cullinan, 50 km east of Pretoria.
(S 25° 40.393, E 028° 31.026)
Open: Surface Mine Tour: All year Mon-Fri 10:30, 14, Sat, Sun, Hol 10:30, 12:15.
Visual Auditorium Tour: starts soon.
Underground Tour: Only after appointment.
Booking required on all tours.
[2021]
Fee: Surface Mine Tour: unknown.
Visual Auditorium Tour: unknown.
Underground Tour: Adults ZAR 550.
[2021]
Classification: MineDiamond Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: Ar=40 ha, D=500 m.
Guided tours: Surface Mine Tour: D=2 h, MinAge=10.
Visual Auditorium Tour: D=45 min.
Underground Tour: D=4.5 h, MinAge=16.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Gardner F. Williams (1905): The Diamons Mines of South Africa, B.F. Buck & Company, New York, p 344ff. online
Address: Premier Diamond Mine, 95 Oak Ave., Cullinan, Tel: +27-12-734-0081, Cell: +27-83-261-3550
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1888 first diamonds discovered in this area.
1902 Premier (Transvaal) Diamond Company registered by Sir Thomas Cullinan.
1903 mine opened under the name Premier Mine.
25-JUN-1905 Cullinan Diamond discovered by Frederick Wells.
1914 production interrupted by World War I.
1916 reopened.
1932 mine stopped production.
1945 reopened, start of underground mining.
NOV-2003 renamed Cullinan Diamond Mine.
2007 sold by De Beers to Rio Tinto.
JUL-2008 purchased by Petra Diamonds Limited, London.

Geology

This is a classical kimberlite pipe. The pipe is 1,180Ma old, the 75 m thick gabbro sill which cuts through at 350 m below the surface is 1,115Ma old. The Cullinan kimberlite is the most important pipe of twelve Group I kimberlite pipes in South Africa. It is also the largest diamondiferous kimberlite in South Africa with a cross-sectional area of 32 ha. The vertical diatreme 550 m deep and there the root zone starts. It is planned to mine about 1,000 m deep, which would mean mining until 2030.

The diatreme is of complex structure and was formed in three distinct phases, each producing a different facies of kimberlite. The first phase produced the diatreme filled with brownish tuffisitic kimberlite breccia (TKB). The second phase reactivated the diatreme and created a center of grey TKB, which contains Waterberg quartzite, basement granite and gneiss inclusions. The third phase is an intrusion into the western part of the pipe. This is black hypabyssal facies kimberlite. Later the diatreme was intruded by carbonatite dykes.


Description

The Great Star of Africa. Replica at the Edelsteinmuseum Idar-Oberstein.

The Cullinan Mine is located at the village Cullinan, and of course, the famous Cullinan diamond has been discovered here. All three are named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, who discovered a rich kimberlite pipe here in 1902. The Cullinan Diamond is the largest diamond in the world at 3,106 carats (621.2 g). It was discovered by Frederick Wells, surface manager of the Premier Diamond Mining Company. The gem was bought by the Transvaal government and presented to King Edward VII.

The diamond was cut into pieces when it was cut, resulting in eleven large gem-quality stones and a number of smaller fragments. The biggest polished gem is the Great Star of Africa (530.2 carats/106.04g). It was the largest polished diamond in the world until the 1985 discovery of the Golden Jubilee diamond.

Cullinan Mine is a giant open pit mine, it has four times the area of the big hole in Kimberly. The mine is still working and produces 25% of the world's gem-quality diamonds. There are both surface and underground tours for the public. The Surface Mine Tour starts with an introductory video and the Diamond Display Room, where replicas of world famous diamonds are on display. There is a replica of a mine tunnel where the guide explains the construction of tunnels underground. Then the headframe of the mine is visited where the shaft goes down 934 m. Finally a look out point of the Big Hole is visited. The Visual Auditorium Tour includes the same except for the surface walking and the visit to the headframe. We guess the main difference is that this tour does not require the mine security check, which is made to make sure nobody takes home a piece of diamond. This is the security check which is made with anybody leaving the mine, no matter if its a miner, a tourist, or the management. The Underground Tours are obviously the most interesting tours but they take 4.5 hours and have no regular dates. Visitors are equipped with overall, helmet, miners lamp and rubber boots. For all tours it is actually necessary to send a message through the contact form on their website and wait for the response. There is neither online booking nor just showing up. It seems it is much easier to book a tour through an tour operator. There are numerous operators offering half day and full day trips to Cullinan including all the tours offered by the mine. They also ofer 1.5 h surface vehicle tours, where you are driven through the mining area instead of walking. Those tours are sold from booths in front of the mine, at hotels in Pretoria and Johannesburg, and online. They include pick up and drop off at your hotel or from the airport.

The mine tour may be completed by a visit to the McHardy House Mini Museum at Cullinan Square in Cullinan Diamond Mine Village. William McHardy was the first general manager of the Premier Mine. It shows how he lived, with the original furniture, and historic photographs of the mine and the town.