MINING hopefuls were disappointed to find that the diamonds they had been digging for in KwaZulu-Natal’s KwaHlathi were in fact quartz of little economic value.
Reuters reported that thousands of fortune seekers had travelled to the eastern part of the province after a herder found a stone he believed to be a diamond. The diamond rush occurred after he put the word out, said the newswire.
Provincial executive council member for economic development and tourism, Ravi Pillay, told a media briefing on Sunday he had counted some 3,000 there during a visit to the site, where samples were taken to identify the stones.
“The tests conducted conclusively revealed that the stones discovered in the area are not diamonds as some had hoped,” he said, adding they were in fact quartz crystals.
“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.”
Citing Pillay, Reuters said the event highlighted the socio-economic pressures faced by local people. Like many areas in South Africa, high levels of unemployment and poverty have left communities living hand to mouth, it said.
The number of people mining the land had dwindled to less than 500, Pillay said though significant damage had already been done with an area of around 50 hectares covered in holes of up to one metre, posing a danger to cattle.