Diamond junior navigates obstacles, broadens horizons

30th June 2023 By: Cameron Mackay - Creamer Media Senior Online Writer

Diamond junior navigates obstacles, broadens horizons

EXTENSIVE EXPLORATION WORK BOD has several diamond exploration projects in South Africa, including the Thorny River and Marsfontein prospects

Junior miners in Africa face several challenges, especially in terms of accessing funding in the region, says Southern Africa’s only active listed junior diamond miner Botswana Diamonds (BOD) MD James Campbell.

Environmental, sustainability and in particular financial regulations globally are increasing, making it difficult for investors to channel capital to juniors, he notes.

“There have also been many failures in the diamond mining and exploration space that have discouraged investors.”

Diamond exploration and mining is a long-term investment that could take up to ten years to materialise, from discovery to mining, which is a long time to keep funding a junior.

Campbell adds that funding for junior miners chiefly does not originate from Africa – the funding for BOD, for example, mainly stems from Ireland and the UK.

“We are dual-listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange and the LSE’s Alternative Investment Market, and we’re hoping to raise our local share-holding in Botswana to a significant percentage as we did with BOD’s predecessor, African Diamonds.”

Campbell says investors consider three key factors when considering investing in a junior: geology (prospectivity), political risk in the region and the track record of the individuals driving the project.

He points out that Botswana is a sound mining jurisdiction – evidenced in a study done by research organisation the Fraser Institute this year, which shows that Botswana’s mining sector is more attractive than South Africa’s.

“There is a transparent cadastre system in Botswana,” he asserts.

Botswana also offers access to geological records “which go back decades”, and that there is a “lack of complexity” in the prospecting licence application process.

“There is a quick turnaround in mining applications, and there is no empowerment legislation, as Botswana didn’t experience the impact of apartheid,” he adds.


BOD is exploring in the Kalahari region of Botswana, under its own wholly-owned subsidiary Sunland Minerals, and as part of the Maibwe Diamonds joint venture with BCL Mines.

BOD became the operators of Sunland Minerals in 2018.

Following the 2020 acquisition of Sekaka Diamonds, BOD will also start work on the Sekaka licences in 2024, also in the Kalahari region.

BOD entered into a sale of shares agreement with diamond miners Petra Diamonds and Kalahari Diamonds in July 2020 to acquire the entire issued share capital of Sekaka, held by Kalahari Diamonds – a wholly-owned subsidiary of Petra.

Sekaka’s diamond exploration database contains the results of work undertaken since 2004, with the acquisition including a valuable prefeasibility study on KX36.

It holds three prospecting licences in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, which incorporates the 3.5 ha, high-grade KX36 kimberlite pipe.

KX36 is situated 60 km from fellow diamond miner Gem Diamonds’ Ghaghoo mine, and 260 km north-west of Gaborone.

Sekaka also holds a recently constructed, kimberlite bulk-sampling plant on site, which includes crushing, scrubbing, dense media separation and X-ray recovery modules, all within a secure area.

“We are also identifying what work needs to be done to progress the Sekaka project to a feasibility study. However, we’re pausing this activity momentarily, as we also have an interest in acquiring Ghaghoo diamond mine.”

Campbell emphasises the benefits of acquiring the Ghaghoo mine, as it is about 60 km from BOD’s KX36 prospect.

“Ghaghoo is a near-term production asset, and the learnings from the mine could equally apply to KX36.”

Several high-grade geophysical anomalies were discovered by Sunland in the Kalahari in areas adjacent to the Ghaghoo mine and the KX36 discovery. The anomalies were found after collecting and collating all historical exploration data for all of Sunland’s Kalahari prospecting licences.

Campbell states that Sunland has greenfield exploration projects which have identified several geophysical and sampling targets that need to be drilled, as these projects are in the early stage of development.

South Africa

BOD has several diamond exploration projects in South Africa, including the Thorny River and Marsfontein prospects, as well as the Reivilo cluster of kimberlites in the Northern Cape.

The Marsfontein mine is about 8 km east of Klipspringer mine, while the kimberlite dyke swarm continues for about another 8 km east of Marsfontein. Both mines are in the Nkumpi Valley.

BOD has done extensive geological and exploration work in the Nkumpi Valley, which has resulted in its applying for two mining permits on Thorny River.

The permits are at an advanced stage in the application process.

Campbell adds that the company has a mining permit for Marsfontein to mine the gravels and old dumps left by the previous operators.

BOD has also contracted services provider EurAfrican Diamond Corporation, which is conducting mining under BOD’s technical and legal supervision.

As a result, BOD’s first batch of diamonds have already been sold.

In addition, the company is pursuing an advanced exploration project for a cluster of kimberlites near its Reivilo project, in the Northern Cape, for which the company received a prospecting licence in 2022.

BOD now has a kimberlite core from this cluster of kimberlites, and plans to undertake microdiamond work to assess the commercial potential of the cluster.