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The National Association of educational broadcasters presents America's African heritage recorded in Africa by Skip West 12. Program 18. Digging for diamonds in back Wango here is good Westfall our broadcast today is one I've been looking forward to for many weeks. The back one good industrial diamond mines in the Belgian Congo. Our host for this interesting tour of the mining area is Vernon van Winesburg a Belgian geologist now employed in the research department of the mining company at Bank One. Mr. Van whines very Suppose we begin with a brief discussion of some of the ways in which industrial diamonds are used. Well all right. The diamond two are used to make motors for use and their limbs for instance. I'm immune systems and many of the farms and precision dance on them. When would we be correct in saying that every automobile which runs on the highways of America and every airplane which files the skies has something of
Africa in it. Oh yes definitely. Well aren't diamonds also involved in obtaining the gasoline and the oil to run the automobiles and the airplanes. Yes drilling tools for boring oil wells are made of diamonds and diamond too is a very important too for getting gasoline used to rules and plays What are some of the other uses of industrial diamonds. While tiny wires of filaments inside two light bills for instance drone through Diamond dies. Same is true of radio and television too. And also needles for High Fidelity recording are made of moment when the diamond plays an important part in our entertainment as well as in helping to provide some of the sensual means of everyday life. Yes that's true.
I remember Mr. Van Weinberger just a few days before leaving home on this trip to Africa. My dentist showed me one of his diamond drill. Yes dentists use them but also so do doctors and surgeons using for instance diamond soles and additions use them to grow and losses in that amazing to realize how almost every phase of our daily lives is affected by diamonds from Africa. And by the way what percentage of the world's supply of industrial diamonds come from Africa. Well 60 per cent of the world's supply comes from right here at the back where in the mines 60 percent yes that's true. And they're going to grow over 95 percent of the world the world will do well this continent then supplies practically all of the world's industrial damage. Yes I think we tell the Africa there will be practically no in this room dynamics. Well one further question Mr. Van Rensburg prior to my departure from the state
there was considerable publicity in the newspapers concerning an artificial stone which has recently been developed. How will this discovery affect diamond mining here at Bank One that well Mr. Murdstone. I don't think it will affect it in the present. The cost of manufacturing is still great to probably be a long time before Brazil will take the place of industry in the moment. In those three minutes Mr. Mann Winesburg gave us a very comprehensive picture of the importance of Africa's diamonds in the life of every American. We could spend the entire 15 minutes discussing Still other uses of industrial diamonds and then not even have begun to cover the subject. However our chief purpose in coming here to back when they used to visit the Mayans and to tell something of the story about how these precious stones are mine and only necessary for us to do a bit of hopping about from one area to another. And we hope you'll be
able to follow it. Am I in Iowa or I'm you're not landing on the rim of a huge crater located about five miles from back one of the miners a half mile long and over 100 feet deep. The operation here at back more of it consists of surface mining or mining and this is the largest of nine big holes are across this huge gaping hole to the opposite side we can see it where the crane has been removed to a depth of about 60 feet in some areas that they found within a foot or so here it was necessary to dig down through the roof. Bird hops on hold for 60 feet into the reddish brown bluegill gravel which contains the names below that we see a large area of deep green is all kimberlite and is also rich in time. And all of the nine miners there are 15 bulldozers at work 15 units Greg Lyons.
Well Caterpillar graders and 65 20 ton trucks hauling rocks. Almost all of this equipment is manufactured in America. Most of this machinery such as the Crips is worn out 15000 hours or more a. Year. So it must be constantly replace. Many thousands of factory workers an American have a part in helping to manufacture this machinery. At another pit about a mile from here is a monster of a machine the largest I've ever seen. It's a bucket excavator 90 feet high operated on a huge caterpillar treads. It elevates the Lluvia gravel from the bottom of a pit 30 feet deep and deposits it on a belt almost two miles long which whisks the dirt away to the sorting room. That machine was manufactured in Germany and cost eight hundred thousand dollars. Now let's get into the next main step in Diamond production from these nine pits huge trucks hauling gravel to the first separation center where it is worst and run through several disintegrators
incentives. Then it is trucked to the picking or sorting room. We had previously visited the picking room so won't make a recording at that point and fact it we're not allowed to. When we started for the picking room I guy had informed me that pictures could not be taken under any circumstances but that I would be permitted to make a tape recording. When we arrived there however we were told that the tape recorder must be left outside. Well to go into a detailed description of all of the steps which are taken in the sorting room would require much more time than we have at our disposal. Briefly this is what happens. First the gravel is run over vibrating saves to remove some of the fine particles which have no value. Then it is worst in revolving tanks. The heavy stone such as a diamond sink to the bottom of the lighter gravel remains on top. This is called the sink and float process. Following that the gravel is run through a large electric dryers then over a cylindrical electro magnet which removes the particles containing iron. Such is you know midnight and magnetite the
diamonds are not magnetic and passed on through to the grease tables. These so-called grease tables are vibrating tables covered with a special kind of grease from South America the diamonds stick to the grease while other minerals pass over it. Some of the diamonds however are encased in a kind of sandstone like a knot within the shell. They do not cling to the grease so these stones must be run through crushers or milling machinery to remove the shell. Once while walking through the plant a piece of dirt dropped down my neck. I suppose at night after taking my bath I should have made sure that diamond didn't warse down the drain. Well the final process is the picking room where 15 skilled African workers hand pick the gravel which contains diamonds that somehow have slipped through the previous operation to prevent any smuggling. Each man is employed in approximately three month periods but no one knows the exact day when he will be removed from the line before he means the picking room he's
required to take a shower under careful supervision and is then returned to the tribe from which he has come. It's rather interesting to observe the colors of the diamonds here in the sorting room there where almost every color blue green bright yellow at the back when the mines there are few Jim diamonds all but 1 percent are industrial dives after the diamonds have all been started. They're packed in small boxes about the size of a three pound box of candy and wrapped in blue paper shipments of the diamonds in the small blue boxes are made only twice a month and with the greatest secrecy. Only one person in the entire company knows the exact time when the stone will be shipped. The final chapter in this diamond story will probably be the most interesting involves a visit to the prospecting area where men are engaged in the fascinating job of hunting for nine years. We will be speaking to you next from a Miners Camp in the prospecting area about 50 miles from back when that.
Us. To. Thank. Us. Now one of the county where I am with all sides built and fixed beside a small stream. You no doubt can hear the voices of the men. They sift the gravel in the river for. Us. Thank. You. We have to travel over some very rough in the way roads to reach this place. Finally we came to the end of the road. Then we had to proceed on foot following a winding path through the brush and over several small screen to get to what is called the washing place. The sun is terrific Lehi as I stand under the shade of this tent. The weather's prickling down my face. But the heat doesn't seem to bother you. Come to Leeds prospectors on the roof. As they toil cheerfully at their job every now and then you
hear some of them singing a bit of a few. And when they start shaking the big fish they do a chance to help keep the gang working in unison. In a minute we'll be able to pick up the sound of their chant. This is certainly one of the most interesting experience of the my entire trip through the Congo. As I look about and watch these men sweating and toiling designed the strain I almost feel as if I had been transported back to the days of the Klondike Gold Rush in Alaska. You have a feeling that here you are right down to the real beginning of dynamite. Here there are no groaning grey lions and roaring bulldozers just the toiling men with their picks and shovels and sifting life. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Out in the stream standing up to their knees in the water a group of men are shoveling out the sand
on the bank of the stream is a series of six shifting boxes each attached to the end of a long plank. This apparatus has something of the appearance of a teeter totter at the opposite end of the plank stands a man ready to start jiggling it when the gravel is poured into the sifting box. Now the men have dumped the gravel into the boxes. Each man has a flat piece of tin about the size of the dinner plate which he strikes on the crossbar to help keep the rhythm of the chant. Now one of the men at the far end of the plank gives the signal to begin the operation. Yeah wonderful. Let's get right into it will make you feel like dancing right out of. It.
This has been Program 18 of America's African heritage. These programs which are recordings made by world travelers get west wall on a recent trip to Africa. The series is made possible by a grand in aid to radio station WOIO Iowa State College from the educational television and radio centered production is under the direction of Norman be great. This is Ray he's speaking for the National Association of educational broadcasters.
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America's African heritage
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Race and Ethnicity
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 4916 (University of Maryland)
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