The joint venture between Botswana Diamonds (BOD) and Russian diamond producer, Alrosa, entered into and effective as of 2013, could be an oasis of opportunity which is likely to take diamond mining to unchartered new beginnings.
An announcement from the Board of BOD states that the first phase four hole drilling programme commenced on Prospecting License PL 135 in the Gope Region of the Kalahari Desert. According to BOD the Gope region is absent of a human interface due to its remoteness, an isolation of which is observed by no people, no water, deep sand and extreme temperatures. Under the BOD/Alrosa joint venture, the two operate on 14 licenses in the Orapa and Kalahari desert regions of which drilling is ongoing in both areas.
“Operating in the region requires significant planning and logistical support. This licence is a top priority target for the Botswana Diamonds/Alrosa joint venture and the drilling programme is targeting new kimberlites. It was selected in separate studies by BOD and by Alrosa geologists as having significant potential and it has never previously been drilled. Intensive soil sampling and electromagnetic studies have identified anomalies in the geology. The core resulting from the drilling programme will be analysed by Alrosa mineralogists present in Botswana. If required, further evaluation and analysis will take place in St. Petersburg, Russia. Results can be expected in approximately twelve weeks,” notes the announcement.
The Gope region presently remains somewhat of a virgin land to diamond mining activities, and this is particularly so because diamond exploration is a high risk exercise but the drilling activities by BOD could be indicative of the company’s confidence of the potential for kimberlite. Despite the fact that exploration does not guarantee results, especially in a region such as Gope which does not have a solid proven record of mining activities, the project could place BOD on a new pedestal relating to diamond mining. The Gope region currently has one producing diamond mine, Ghaghoo mine which is owned by Gem Diamonds.
John Teeling, chairman of BOD, commented “The Gope drill campaign is breaking new ground in one of the most remote deserts on Earth. There are no people, even water must be transported long distances and the sand is deep. Temperatures can differ by 50 Celsius between day and night. No mining companies have ventured here before to undertake drilling programmes. And yet the preliminary geochemical and geophysical indicators are strongly positive. We are at the cutting edge of diamond exploration and are cautiously optimistic of finding kimberlites.”