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25 august 2014

Botswana Diamonds said its Sunland joint venture with the Russian diamond giant, Alrosa is proving to be fruitful.

Company chairperson John Teeling told Rough & Polished’s Mathew Nyaungwa in an exclusive interview that their strategy in Orapa, Botswana would have been different had they not partnered with the Russians.

He also said that apart fr om its partnership with Alrosa, Botswana Diamonds believed that it was operating in the right area.

Teeling noted that they had “excellent” indications that there are undiscovered kimberlites in Orapa.

He also said that the joint venture’s “top” targets are on the new ground where exploration would start in September in Orapa.

Botswana Diamonds reported recently that its drilling programme on Prospecting License No PL117/2011 in Orapa, Botswana is expected to commence in September. How optimistic are you about this project?

Remember we are explorers and diamond exploration is the most risky of all.  But we are in the right area, we have the world’s best diamond company (Alrosa of Russia) as our partner, we have excellent indications that there are undiscovered kimberlites.  So I am optimistic but the only true measure is a drill hole.

What is the potential of the two specific targets to be drilled, AN117/1 and AN117/2?

What we are looking for at this stage of the project is a kimberlite.  Assuming we find a kimberlite we explore more to see if it has diamonds.  It if does we drill more to see if there is a commercial grade.  Botswana kimberlites tend to be diamondiferous and the diamonds are good.  The critical thing is a kimberlite.

These targets are said to be different from the already known AK10 kimberlite. What are these differences?

The four anomalies discovered by Alrosa were not found by De Beers or by African Diamonds.  Alrosa analysed available geophysical and geochemical data in a unique way.  They are very strong in estimating how far diamonds or kimberlite indicator minerals (KIMs) have travelled from the source.  The known AK10 kimberlite is big and contains diamonds but is not commercial.  Our targets are north of AK10.

Botswana Diamonds is also set to finalise an extensive Orapa exploration programme on its new ground also starting in September.  Can you shed more light on this?

A $670,000 exploration programme starts in September on five licences in the Orapa area.  The objective is to build on the database already held by Botswana Diamonds.  The work will be soil sampling and geophysics.  Alrosa has a number of targets on this ground.

Is PL117/2011, the biggest project that your Sunland joint venture with Alrosa mainly focusing on, if so why?

The joint venture focused on PL117 because it contained a target identified by Alrosa and was immediately available.  It was one of the best but not the best target identified.  The top targets are on the new ground wh ere exploration starts in September.

You also identified three further anomalies AN1, AN2 and AN4 in Orapa. Do they look promising and have you defined these anomalies yet?

There are four anomalies on PL117.  We will drill two AN1 and AN2.  AN3 and AN4 are thought to be small so they are on the back burner.

Botswana Diamonds indicated that additional geophysical works will be carried out in September in Orapa. Can you tell us more about this work?

The geophysical work in September is to pinpoint co-ordinates for drill sites on Target AN1 on PL117.  A wider programme covering five licences PL206-PL210 inclusive will follow.

Do you think your company could have made so much progress, if it had not engaged the services of Alrosa?

Had we not jointed ventured with Alrosa it is likely that the strategy would be different.  The primary focus would remain Orapa Botswana but we would have done more work on the Gope licence block.

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