National Geographic : 1900 Mar
84 BRITISH SOUTH AFRICA AND THE TRANSVAAL The Transvaal is a lofty plateau lying within the outer rim of the vast South African table-land, between 4,000 and 6,000 feet above the sea-level. In consequence of this great elevation, although it is intercepted by the tropic of Capricorn at a point between 60 and 70 miles to the south of its northern frontier, it enjoys a healthful and invigorating climate, except in some of the low-lying country on the Limpopo and other fluvial tracts near the eastern frontier. The winter half of the year, from March to September, is dry and cool, especially during the nights, but the days are often as warm as in summer. During these months cold, sharp winds blow from the south, and the mountain ranges are often covered for several days with snow, and hail storms are frequent. In addition to its treasures of gold, the country is rich in other min erals, particularly iron. The Yzerberg, near Marabastad, is almost a solid mass of iron ore of the richest quality; coal of excellent quality is abundant, and supplies the mining industry with good and cheap fuel; copper, lead, quicksilver, etc., have also been found. The for mations containing diamonds have also been found to extend into both the Orange Free State and the Transvaal. Kimberley, the headquarters of the diamond industry, is in British territory, only four miles from the boundary of the Orange Free State and 647 miles from Cape Town. There are no natural features that can assist in its defense, but the great mounds of earth and debris from the mines have been utilized by the garrison for that purpose. The dry diggings in the mines of the Kimberley district afford the only locality in which the diamond has thus far been found in its original home, and all our knowledge of the genesis of the diamond has been derived from the study of the conditions there existing. The mines are located in '" pans " or depressions in which the blue ground is found that is now recognized as the matrix of the diamond. These pans formed the vents of ancient volcanoes which have been worn down by the forces of the atmosphere, and are the pipes or tubes through which the lava reached the surface; they are partly sur rounded by black shale containing a large percentage of carbon, from which material the diamonds have been formed by crystallization. As a proof of the wonderful progress which has been made in a place which only a few years back was a bare prairie, I will mention that a school of mines has lately been erected and opened" at Kim berley. The courses of instruction are intended to prepare students for a diploma of mining engineer or for the degree of Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in mining engineering.