The team of geoscientists and mining experts that were inspecting the stones found in KwaHlathi in Ladysmith that were thought to be diamonds, have released a preliminary report stating that the stones are indeed not diamonds but instead quartz crystals. Last week, people flocked to the area, some even from other provinces, to mine the stones.

The technical Sub-Task Team consisting of DMRE KZN Regional officials, Council for Geoscience, South African Diamond, and Precious Metals Regulator, conducted an inspection at the site on Tuesday.

The team says it found that the site of the informal mining is geographically located on the edge of the Karoo dolerite sill, which is not in a zone where diamonds can be found.

“In fact, what has been discovered are quartz crystals that are common across the Karoo Supergroup with extensional fracture planes within and along with the contact of Karoo dolerite sill. The value, if any, of the quartz crystals is yet to be established but it must be mentioned that the value of quartz crystals is very low compared to that of diamonds,” the report says.

The Council for Geoscience, working with various stakeholders, is expected to institute a geological mapping programme to investigate any other potential resources that may advance socio-economic development in the area.

Socio-economic challenges

The team investigating the diamond rush in the area says that the activities of residents and others highlighted the socio-economic challenges confronting people in the area.

The experts say they will present their findings on the challenges in the area to KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Sihle Zikalala.

“A report on the findings by the Council for Geoscience and on the socio-economic challenges in the area will be presented to Premier Sihle Zikalala and the entire provincial executive council. This will be the basis for us to formulate a coordinated response to all the challenges. Part of the response will have to focus on the issue of road and access to water. We will also formulate a comprehensive plan to rehabilitate the site on which digging is taking place.”

The team has appealed to people in the area to heed COVID-19 protocols.

They have also warned that illegal mining activities could have a negative impact on the environment and land degradation accentuated by the extensive diggings in the area.

The full media briefing is in the video below: