‘Diamond rush’ dismay at KwaHlathi

DURBAN – THE diamond rush should now settle following the findings of a preliminary report that the alleged diamonds are in fact quartz crystals.

“The tests conducted conclusively revealed that the stones discovered in the area are not diamonds as some had hoped.

In fact, what has been discovered are quartz crystals that are common across the Karoo Supergroup with extensional fracture planes within and along the contact of Karoo dolerite sill,” said Ravi Pillay, the Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC.

Pillay said that KwaHlathi, a rural area in Ladysmith, was located in an area that was not a diamond zone.

“The preliminary report shows that the site of the informal mining practices is geographically located on the edge of the Karoo dolerite sill which is not in a zone where diamond occurrences are present.

“This was confirmed by visual, geological and chemical analyses that were conducted,” said Pillay.

The quartz crystals found in the area were worth inversely way less than what diamonds are worth though their actual worth was yet to be determined. “The value, if any, of the quartz crystals is yet to be established but it must be mentioned that the value of quartz crystals is very low compared to that of diamonds,” said Pillay.

He said extensive geoscience studies were required in the area at a regional scale to investigate possibilities of groundwater resources as well as any other lithologies that may be host to other natural resources that may contribute to local development and the economy of the province.

The Council for Geoscience also sent experts who worked on the analysis of the stones.

“The stone was unfortunately not a diamond but a quartz crystal,” said Mosa Mabuza, Geoscience chief executive officer.

The illegal mining frenzy also had another progressive turn as the area was now targeted for economic development.

“People raised a lot of issues during the visit. We saw that the community in that area was poverty-stricken and that their roads needed re-gravelling and black tops. “A lot of job opportunities will be created once we fix the roads,” said Peggy Nkonyeni, MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison.

Nkonyeni urged people to withdraw from further illegal mining activities following the scientific finding that the stones mined were not diamonds.

The preliminary report came after the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, sent a team of experts from the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy together with officials from Mintek, the Council for Geoscience and members from the South African Diamonds and Precious Metals Regulator last Tuesday to test and analyse whether or not the diamond claims were true.

The illegal mining of diamonds began soon after Dwayne Maskutule, a herd boy who was in search of livestock, stumbled across a stone that resembled a diamond.

Thousands of people from the province and beyond travelled to KwaHlathi with the aim of getting their hands on the so-called diamonds.

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