Botswana Diamonds (BOD) which has a joint venture with Alrosa, the Russian diamond producer, announced last week that the next stage of exploration will begin at the end of September in the Orapa and Gope areas. BOD entered into a partnership with Alrosa in 2013 that would see the two exploring diamonds in Botswana.
BOD also announced that Four core holes will be drilled in Gope on PL 135, Two core holes will be drilled on kimberlite AK22 on PL 260 in Orapa, Two core holes will be drilled on PL 085 in Orapa and an intensive programme of geophysics and soil sampling will be carried out on the 4 other licences held in Gope. According to BOD an Alrosa team of 7 specialists will be joined by BOD geologists to undertake the activities.
An important question was asked at the recently held mining and metals conference which sought to find out if mining is still a viable activity in the current volatile and uncertain commodity market. With particular reference to Botswana the prospects, specifically relating to diamonds; have been described with some sense of doubt given the anticipated zero or negative growth looming in the future when the mining would have reached a plateau. However, that being the case, diamonds have been described to possess a relatively defensive characteristic which makes them less volatile in comparison to other commodities. The continued drilling is an indication that indeed not all hope is lost in the diamond industry.
Chairman of BOD, John Teeling, is quoted saying “The Alrosa/Botswana Diamonds Joint Venture will shortly begin an intensive twelve week exploration programme on our ground in Botswana. Core holes will be drilled on three licenses, two on the known kimberlite AK22 in Orapa, two on license PL 085 also in Orapa and fouron license PL 135 in Gope. Earlier work has pinpointed sites we believe may contain new diamondiferous kimberlites.We are drilling two holes on AK 22, a known kimberlite containing diamonds. We had expected to have the results from a bulk sample of 80 tons of materials on an adjacent pipe AK 21 but lack of processing capacity in Botswana and issues with a facility in South Africa have to date produced inconclusive results. We are having to re-examine the concentrate as well as analyse fresh core from earlier drillings. We will also run electromagnetic and Transient Electro Magnetic (TEM) studies and soil sampling programmes across 6 licenses. Initial results are expected by year end. We are funded for this phase of exploration.”
Earlier in May BOD announced the presence of diamonds in the Gope area which is part of the Maibwe (Brightstone) block of licences in that region. BOD however mentioned that the exploration falls outside the partnership with Alrosa but rather with Brightstone which it also entered into partnership with in 2013. In 2015 however BCL, the state owned copper and nickel producer, took over the block and created Maibwe diamonds. The area in Maibwe block has been identified, as cited by BOD, as highly prospective for diamond discoveries. BOD owns 15 percent of Maibwe diamonds. BOD announced at the time that a large diameter drilling was to follow the exploration results.