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Botswana Diamonds to bulk sample KX36 kimberlite, sees commercial potential

07 september 2020

james_campbell_excl_xx.jpgBotswana Diamonds recently acquired Petra Diamonds’ exploration assets in Botswana for $300000.

The assets that were owned by Petra through its wholly-owned Sekaka Diamonds Exploration, include the KX36 project, a 3.5 hectare kimberlite that was a new discovery in 2010.

Botswana Diamonds managing director James Campbell told Rough & Polished’s Mathew Nyaungwa in an exclusive interview that they will soon bulk sample the KX36 kimberlite as well consider innovative ways of mining it.

The company see potential in the kimberlite and the two contiguous prospecting licences.

Campbell also commented on their operations in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Below are excerpts from the interview:

Botswana Diamonds recently swooped for Petra Diamonds’ exploration assets in Botswana, including the KX36 project. What are your plans for this 3.5 hectare kimberlite?

We will initially look to bulk sample the kimberlite so as to firm-up on the diamond grades and value, whilst looking at innovative ways of mining it. This all needs to be planned and we have already started with this work.

What is the potential of KX36?

The KX36 pipe is the highest grade kimberlite discovery in Botswana since the discovery of the Jwaneng and Orapa clusters. We believe it has commercial potential. Petra Diamonds, though its local arm Sekaka Diamonds concluded both a SAMREC compliant Indicated Resource on the pipe as well as a pre-feasibility study.

What is known about the other two Prospecting Licenses that were previously owned by Petra through Sekaka?

These have the potential for additional kimberlite discoveries especially as the KX36 heavy mineral train is extensive and thus could potentially obscure additional kimberlites.

How optimistic are you of getting regulatory approvals for this deal?

Most optimistic, these should be purely regulatory. Botswana Diamonds plc is a Botswana Stock Exchange listed company and along with its predecessor African Diamonds plc has a long, active and successful history in Botswana.

To what extent has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your exploration activities in South Africa?

We have been able to conclude the bulk sampling on the Marsfontein kimberlite, initiate and conclude the deal with Petra on Sekaka and continue to deploy new exploration technology through UK group Subterrane over the Marsfontein and ThornyRiver projects.

What is the impact of coronavirus on funding for diamond exploration?

The corona virus has had a severe short-term negative effect on the diamond market. However, diamond exploration is a long-term business which has been increasingly hard to fund though funds are available for good projects at the rightprice.

Are investors in southern Africa now interested in funding diamond exploration in their backyard?

Sadly, most of the funding for exploration in the region comes from offshore, very little comes from host countries.

What is the latest development with the Marange project that you will be part of through your agreement with Vast Resources?

There has been no movement on this project since the beginning of the pandemic. We are cautiously optimistic that we will be able to resume progress once the pandemic passes.

Given the recent political developments in Zimbabwe, are you convinced that the country remains an ideal investment destination?

Zimbabwe remains attractive from a prospectivity perspective though clearly there are short-term challenges, especially with diamond business only being allowed through the four named companies.

Mathew Nyaungwa, Editor in Chief of the African Bureau, Rough&Polished