African Diamonds (AFD), the mid-tier diamond prospecting and mining corporation, said its joint venture with the giant De BeersÔÇöBoteti Exploration has been awarded an exploration licence around Orapa, a move that is likely to boast its diamonds finds within the area.
The Botswana Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange AIM listed company said the new area known as PL 36/2006 in which it is scouting for diamonds “is considered to be highly prospective” and has nine known kimberlites.
“A re-interpretation of the old geophysical data suggests that some of these known kimberlites might be larger in size, and their mineral chemistry data is of high interest, suggesting that they may have economic potential,” the company said in a statement. “A large scale exploration project will commence immediately over the full licence. The Boteti joint venture now has access to 39 of the 78 known kimberlites in the Orapa area.”
PL36/2006 is 10km east of the Orapa Mine, the second largest diamond mine in the world, and is adjacent to the Damtshaa diamond mine. The Letlhakane diamond mine and the African Diamonds AK6 discovery are just to the south of the licence.
“Immediate steps are being taken to bulk sample and core drill three of the known kimberlites BK3, BK6 and BK7. This includes taking of 100-ton bulk samples on each of the kimberlites in addition to detailed ground geophysics and drilling to outline the size of the pipes,” the statement added.
De Beers, which is wholly funding the exploration project, will also undertake an airborne high-resolution aeromagnetic survey over the 22 sq.
kilometres of the PL, as well as high-resolution ground gravity and ground magnetics. They will also drill the remaining known kimberlites BK28, BK39, BK42, BK43, BK45 and BK47 to determine their sizes and potential for diamonds.
The two companies, African Diamonds and De Beers, entered into a joint agreement to develop the resource discovered by a young De Beers geologist, Mark Scowcroft, who left the giant diamond company after he failed to convince them about their “incorrect” geological model to pursue the project commonly known as AK6.
The exploration exercise that was carried out by De Beers following the joint venture through the use of its new technology found out that the kimberliteÔÇöthe volcanic rock deposit containing diamonds ÔÇô was much larger than originally thought.
It also contained the rare nitrogen free gemstone deposits found in 45-carat Hope diamond in the Smithsonian in New York and Cullinan diamonds, which are part of the Crown Jewels.
The discovery of stones is expected to raise the overall value of the AK6 proposed mine to at least US $ 180 per carat with an annual production of 1.5 million carats per annum, the company said three months ago.
Under the previous predictions, the mine was expected to produce revenue of around US $ 3.6 billion and attributed value of US $ 6 percent per share to African Diamonds shares. So far, since its listing on the BSE three years ago, its share price has risen by over 300 percent.
According to the company, there is a 50 percent chance of making a similar find within its 4000 square kilometre area, especially at AK8.
African Diamond is also involved in some exploration work in Sierra Leone and Guinea and will operate under West African Diamonds.
Meanwhile, the company has appointed James Campbell, who is its current General Manager at De Beers Global Mining and Exploration group, as its new managing director and assumed his new position from December 1.
“He (Campbell) brings a wealth of experience and deep skills in the diamond industry and, along with the executive team, will help develop and expand the company’s portfolio in terms of our objective of being a mid-tier diamond producer,” said African Diamonds chairman, John Teeling.