Botswana Diamonds gains 11% as excitement grows for SA prospect Thorny River

Rough diamonds

BOTSWANA Diamonds said an early assessment of its South African kimberlite prospect Thorny River resembled Marsfontein – one of the richest diamond mines in the world during its short operating life between 1999 and 2000. It was closed in 2002.

Based on a preliminary study of Thorny River’s content an estimated two million tons of kimberlite volume has been discovered. The UK-listed company will now move to assess the mining potential of the kimberlite.

John Teeling, chairman of Botswana Diamonds and a well known mineral exploration entrepreneur said the results from Thorny River were “better than expected”. The prospect – adjacent to Marsfontein, is located in the Limpopo province.

“Let me put this in context. The two million tonnes is almost twice the size of the nearby Marsfontein deposit,” he said in a statement issued by Botswana Diamonds. “We have identified other small potential blows which could further increase the kimberlite volume. This enhances the potential in developing a ‘hub and spoke’ mining project”.

Marsfontein, which was jointly operated by De Beers and SouthernEra, a Canadian firm, recouped its capital investment in less than four days.

Botswana Diamonds is studying mining options for the kimberlite complex. No assessment of potential diamond grade has been made at this stage, the company said. Shares in Botswana Diamonds were just over 11% higher in London today valuing the company at £8.75m.

In August last year, Botswana Diamonds bought Gem Diamonds’ Ghaghoo mine in central Botswana for $4m in cash through a joint venture deal with partner Vast Resources.

“We believe there are significant opportunities to improve Ghaghoo’s operating and financial performance through both the application of new and optimisation of existing technologies along with a strongly recovering diamond market,” said James Campbell, MD of Botswana Diamonds at the time.

Teeling has been forthright about his style as a mineral explorer. “I’m a prospector, an early stage explorer. It’s extremely high risk and I hear people talking about ‘high risk’ expecting that it also means ‘high return’, but what it really means is that you are going to lose your money most of the time,” he said at a mining conference in 2017.

“I sell hope, not hard fact. I sell mystery, not history. That’s what exploration is. Nobody knows what lies two miles into the ground.”

Having said that it was Teeling, in partnership with Campbell, who discovered the AK6 prospect in Botswana which was sold to Lucara Diamonds and is now known as Karowe that’s produced some of the world’s largest diamonds.