The stones found in the KwaHlathi village are not diamonds but are quartz crystals, said KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Edtea) MEC Ravi Pillay, on Sunday.

“The tests conducted conclusively revealed that the stones discovered in the area are not diamonds as some had hoped. In fact, what has been discovered are quartz crystals that are common across the Karoo Supergroup with extensional fracture planes, within and along the contact of Karoo dolerite sill,” Pillay said.

“The value, if any, of the quartz crystals is yet be established but it must be mentioned that the value of quartz crystals is very low compared to that of diamonds,” said Pillay.

Releasing the preliminary report into the findings, Pillay said the report showed that the site of the informal mining practises was geographically located on the edge of the Karoo dolerite sill, which was not in a zone where diamond occurrences were present.

He said that it was confirmed by visual, geological and chemical analyses that were conducted.

He said that Council for Geoscience would be working with various stakeholders to institute a geological mapping programme, to understand other potential resources that may advance socio-economic development in KwaHlathi.

“Extensive geoscience studies are required in the area, at a regional scale, to investigate possibilities of groundwater resources, as well as any other lithologies that may be host to other natural resources, that may contribute to local development and the economy of the province,” said Pillay.

The “diamond rush” started after cattle herder, Phoka Mofokeng, came across glass stones while digging in a field.
He told the community and, as the news spread, people flocked to the area.

The KwaZulu-Natal government warned that the mining activity was illegal and could worsen the impact of the third wave of Covid-19 infections.

The Department of Minerals Resources and Energy (DMRE) dispatched a task team, comprising geological and mining experts, to the area to conduct a proper inspection of the site and of what had been discovered in the area.

On Sunday, Pillay said that the activity at KwaHlathi, in the past week, highlighted the socio-economic challenges confronting people in the area.

“Thus, in responding to this particular matter of the stones, we also have to provide a comprehensive response to the socio-economic challenges, as raised by the community members during our visit to the site, and as communicated by community representatives during a meeting held earlier,” Pillay said.

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, Pillay said.

“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 roads and access to water. We will also formulate a comprehensive plan to rehabilitate the site on which digging is taking place,” Pillay said.

“We appeal to the people on site to vacate the area, as what they are involved in has the potential of spreading Covid-19. The illegal mining practices also have a negative impact on the environment and land degradation, that has been accentuated by the extensive digging in the area,” added Pillay.

Editor@tech-talk.co.za

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