Kimberley's diamonds once drew prospectors from all over the world, but the end of underground mining in the remote Northern Cape Town has left some wondering how it will survive without them.
Hundreds of workers still descend more than 0.5km underground at the town's three mines before dawn, but only for essential maintenance. Production has stopped and although consultation with workers continues, gem giant De Beers says it doubts mining will ever restart.
"We are moving towards the final cessation of underground operations," said David Noko, the De Beers Kimberley operations manager. "It has hit morale. Shock, frustration, anxiety - there are all of these things."
Diamond prices have risen some 5% in the last year, fuelled mainly by demand from newly-rich middle-class Chinese and Indian customers. However, the firm says the mines that once produced most of the world's gems are simply too exhausted and expensive to run profitably.
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