KZN ‘diamonds’ that sparked digging spree are nothing more than common quartz

A preliminary scientific report has confirmed that stones being excavated by illegal prospectors at a poor, rural area outside the KwaZulu-Natal town of Ladysmith are quartz crystals, and not the life-altering diamonds that many diggers had hoped.

As previously reported by Daily Maverick, thousands of mostly locals, and some from other parts of the province and country, have been flocking to a 50ha area in the village of KwaHlathi to dig for diamonds since an unidentified stone was unearthed on Saturday, 12 June 2021 by a herdsman.

Residents dig for what they believe to be diamonds

But KwaZulu-Natal’s MEC for economic development and environment, Ravi Pillay, confirmed at a press briefing on Sunday, 20 June what many geologists had been saying since images of the stones were strewn all over the media — that the area was not in a diamond zone and that the objects were indeed quartz crystals.

Tests undertaken by the Council for Geoscience on samples that were collected last week had “conclusively revealed” that the stones were “not diamonds”, Pillay said.

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

The intergovernmental task team that was briefed to probe the matter had met community leaders and representatives on the afternoon of 20 June regarding the findings, he said. The findings are expected to be presented to the provincial cabinet this week.

During the same briefing, Council for Geoscience CEO Mosa Mabuza said that a “preliminary assessment has corroborated that [the stones] are quartz crystals”.

Mabuza said the scientists sent to inspect the site had looked at the area “through a different prism”, with the view to socioeconomic upliftment.

A study would be conducted in the area with the aim of formalising economic development, he said.

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