Leading diamond exploration, evaluation and mining geologists Dr Mike de Wit and Dr John Bristow – in collaboration with the University of Pretoria Geology Department and Enterprises University of Pretoria – presented a short course on ‘Diamond Exploration and their Primary and Secondary Sources’ to fourth-year university students and interested delegates last month.
The internationally recognised course was a collaborative initiative cosponsored by Petra Diamonds, Consulmet and the Geological Society of South Africa. Additional support was provided by MSA Group, the Society of Economic Geologists, De Beers and Sheahan Diamond Newsletter.
Presented by a team of prominent international experts in diamond exploration and evaluation methods, the course provided delegates with a unique opportunity to gain exposure to the latest developments in diamond exploration, geophysics, structural studies, kimberlite petrology and mineralogy, diamond formation, and mantle indicator and fine diamond applications.
“The course covered the full ambit of primary (kimberlites and lamproites) and secondary (land- and marine-based alluvial) diamond deposits, including the evaluation, mining and exploitation of these deposits, as well as the marketing and sales of rough diamonds,” explains Bristow.
The 2018 course was attended by 17 fourth-year students from the University of Pretoria Geology Department, three students from other South African universities, and 20 paying delegates from industry, including participants from exploration and mining companies, crushing, screening, processing and recovery plant manufacturers, earthmoving equipment suppliers, and a contingent of private alluvial diamond miners from the Northern Cape.
Presentations covering all facets of the industry were done by 14 internationally acknowledged experts from the diamond industry, diamond specialists and consultants, and universities. These services were provided pro bono and all funds generated were allocated to the Geology Department and the university for student bursaries, for field-trip support and project activities.
Bristow stated that there was no similar course offered internationally, in that it covered both the theoretical and practical aspects of all key aspects of the business, with the latest research, developmental and technological findings presented by a range of local and internationally recognised experts.
The course included a practical component comprising a tour to Petra Diamonds’ Cullinan diamond mine, north of Pretoria, which has been fully rebuilt and modernised into one of the world’s largest and most sophisticated diamond mines at a cost of about $612-million. Bristow explained that the mine produced the “exceptional” 3 106 ct Cullinan diamond and, since acquiring it from De Beers, Petra had continued to recover other exceptional white and blue stones.
The course also covered recent developments relating to synthetic gemstone diamonds, which were increasingly becoming part of the international diamond jewellery industry.
Bristow noted that there were currently about 15 producers of synthetic gems, which are produced branded products targeting young consumers and niche markets at the lower end of the market, the most notable recent entrant being De Beers through its wholly owned synthetic diamond manufacturer, Element Six.