Rough Diamond Review
First diamonds inBotswana
First diamonds inBotswana
It is only along the eastern sector of Botswana whereone nds rocky outcrops and some developmentof streams and rivers. Three small diamonds wererecovered from gravels in the Motloutse River,near Foley Siding, in 1959. These were the rstauthenticated diamonds to be found in Botswana,discovered by the Central African Selection Trust(CAST). The prospecting team followed the seasonalriver to its headwaters, but eventually abandonedtheir search under the belief that the diamonds werederived from local Karoo age conglomerates. Theproject was terminated.De Beers had begun prospecting in Botswanain 1955. One of their rst recruits was Dr Gavin Lamontwho had been working at the Geological Survey of Bechuanaland Protectorate (Botswana today). After traversing large areas of the country and sampling theblanket of sand for minute indicator minerals, Lamontnally decided to focus on the eastern central part of Botswana. In 1963 he was joined in his search for kimberlites by Jim Gibson, a young Scot. After eightyears of prospecting De Beers had still not found asingle kimberlite.In 1964 Lamont decided to return to the siteof the original discoveries by
. By now their data was an open le which he could study andevaluate. Lamont discussed the results with ChrisJennings, a young South African geologist workingat the Geological Survey on the geohydrology of thecountry. Jennings directed Lamont to a paper writtenby Dr Alex du Toit, the South African geologist creditedwith the theory of continental drift and Gondwanaland.Of interest was Du Toit’s identication of a warp inthe crust of the Earth that stretched from Bulawayoin Zimbabwe to the southern parts of Botswana.Lamont noticed that the headwaters of the MotloutseRiver terminated against the crustal upwarp identiedby Du Toit. It was possible that the Motloutse River could have been spliced in two by the upwarp andthat both the Motloutse River and the diamonds itcontained could have an origin further to the west, onthe other side of the upwarp. Lamont sent a report tothe De Beers head ofce, but received no reply.Two years later Botswana was approachingits independence. Still unsuccessful, De Beers wereready to terminate their exploration in Botswana.
“In the romantic hunt for diamonds, for the rich pot-holes and jewel- patches in which they sometimes collect, many men have been inclined to lose sight of the strangestorehouses from whichthey have come. That isto say, most men have.On the other hand, somehave not.” - Hedley Chilvers, TheSeven Lost Trails of Africa, 1930.
More than two thirds of Botswana is covered by the KalahariDesert. This almost ubiquitous blanket of sand has longobscured Botswana’s mineral wealth. The country’s rstkimberlite pipe was only discovered in 1967 after more thana decade of prospecting.
The Orapa discovery pit: Jim Gibson, Dr Gavin Lamont and Manfred Marx