Dredging the Zambezi Riverbed by Spirit of the River Zambia, a subsidiary of Spirit of the River International of Canada has resulted in the discovery of commercial diamonds in Western Zambia.The company has also discovered more than three kimberlite pipes, mother rock in which diamonds crystallise, in Zambia’s Western Province.
Spirit of the River Zambia’s geophysicist and gemmologist/mining managers Dr Wezi Chekwe and Inyambo Muhau respectively told this reporter during a recently conducted tour of their operations at Namande Mine Site along the Zambezi River that their initial activities concerning alluvial mining by dredging the riverbed as approved by the Zambian Ministry of Mines have born fruits.“We have found diamonds. Now we are striving to localise the exact places for viable commercial production,” said Mr. Muhau.
Mr. Muhau said the company first picked a commercial diamond weighing one carat on November 29, 2006 within a month of serious operation.“29th November is when we found a diamond. The first diamond was found at Namande site at 14:20 hours by our boss (Dave Schaffer). This has been specially certified,” he explained. According to a certificate from the Gemmological Unit Laboratory of the Geological Survey Department dated December 15, 2006, the colourless sample was identified as a natural commercial diamond.
Muhau further explained that through their prospecting using satellite imagery system they found kimberlite pipes, the mother rock where diamonds crystallise near Kalabo, a remote district on the border with Angola.He said the sited areas had greater probability of having large quantities of commercial diamonds.He said the find in the area was basically the continuation of what was in Angola’s Moxico Province.“There is a gradient… Angola is like somewhere here (upper) and we are getting lower, so the diamonds should have flowed more and more to the confluence of Luanginga and Zambezi rivers (in Zambia). That’s why we said let’s go down stream first then upstream because upstreamthat’s where larger quantities should be expected,” Mr. Muhau explained.
And Dr Chekwe said they also found micro diamonds during prospecting process.He said a few days after their first find, three more pieces of diamonds were picked at Namande site and that on December 7, 2006, they picked another, which weighed 2. 3 carats.“For us this (Namande) is on the outskirts, the real vicinity is in Kalabo, that’s where the kimberlite pipes are. I must tell you this, In Angola so vast as that country is the producing kimberlite pipes which they have not even started mining are only three.
In South Africa, there are only two including that famous Kimberley site which mined for 100 years. Definitely we have found more than three,” he said. “The figures I don’t think we are allowed to say that but we have found more than three kimberlite sites in Western Province, fully identified through aero magnetic data and satellite imagery system. Without any level of doubt we know that there are diamonds in this place and that is why we are working into the viability of the project and the business management and the President of our company is organising other investors so that more activities can be done in the soonest time.”
However, Dr Chekwe said their company has not started marketing yet but is concentrating on production.“Our job now is to increase production. There is continuous flow of equipment now. As of now we are saying production is stepping up, injection of new equipment is stepping up,” he said.
Dr Chekwe also said they have located another suspected kimberlite pipe nearer to Namande which they are also investigating.“For now we will say suspected kimberlite pipes because no one will tell you in a yes or no situation that this is it. That is why we are careful not to say there is plenty of diamonds because you excite people.An investor injects 10 million dollars on your statement and finds nothing, you are a fraud,” he said.“This is not a joke. It’s not fortune hunting.”
He said their find was significant because it gave them confidence that there was diamonds in the area.“It gives confidence that we are doing the right thing but they are still so small that we can’t go to the world market and say this is the Zambian diamond. That doesn’t make sense,” he said.
Dr. Chekwe said their findings would considerably change and help re-write the geological history of the province.He ruled out the question of probability in their operation.“It’s not a game of chance. There are two theories here. The real diamond we found it. The rock that bears diamonds is also here at several locations. This is just the first one we want to exhaust. How much diamonds we are going to find we will tell after mining a few months and checking the quantities and which ones are diamonds of what grade,” he said.
The company has started dredging the riverbed downstream about 80 to 100 kilometres from Kalabo where the kimberlite pipes have been identified.Spirit of the River is the only one among the prospecting companies that has publicly declared its find of the precious stone that has long been suspected in the area.