Finding Diamonds in the Rough

 

Diamond in the rough
Photo cred : itsjonahhorst.deviantart.com

 

Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without one. – Confucius

For my blog this month, seeing as the subject is mining and diamonds I thought I would find some interesting facts on diamonds, where they are found, how they are mined and more:

The word diamond derives from the Greek word “adamas,” which means invincible or indestructible.

The largest diamond ever discovered was called the Cullinan diamond, and weighed in at an amazing 3106 carats, or 1.33 pounds. Discovered in 1905 in South Africa, the mine’s owner and the South African leaders gave the diamond to King Edward. The Cullinan was eventually cut into nine large diamonds and 100 smaller ones, and the three largest of these are on display in the Tower of London as part of the crown jewels.

Diamonds are formed hundreds of kilometers below the surface, as carbon is squeezed under intense temperatures and pressures. Kimberlite pipes bring the gems to the surface in eruptions that sometimes rise faster than the speed of sound. The pipes are rare. Of the more than 6000 known kimberlite pipes in the world, about 600 contain diamonds. Of these, only about 60 are rich enough in quality diamonds to be worth mining. West Africa has many “artisanal” operations in which people sift through river sediments for the occasional diamond eroded from a kimberlite pipe upstream. But a few pipes have been found in the thick jungle.

Africa is the world’s largest producer of diamonds, producing as much as 50% of global production. To date, Africa has produced over 75%, in value, of the world’s diamonds with more than 1.9 billion carats worth an estimated $US 158 billion mined. Angola, Botswana and South Africa are leading producers of diamonds.
Mining activities are centered around South Central Africa, with diamonds being produced primarily from kimberlite mines (South Africa, Angola, DRC, Ghana, Tanzania, Lesotho and Botswana), followed by alluvial dredging operations (Angola, CAR, Namibia and South Africa) and offshore marine diamond activities (South Africa and Namibia).

Before any actual mining even takes place, prospectors need to locate diamond sources first. To hit pay dirt and get to the larger sized rough crystals, geologists follow the trail of secondary diamond sources to determine where the primary sources of pipe deposits are.
Once the pipes are found and the presence of diamonds is proven true and profitable, shanks are inserted into the ground at the ore-bearing pipes and huge amounts of soil are extracted. In order to make mining efficient and effective, the raw rock and soil are typically not examined on-site.
Instead, they are transported to special plants where the ore is processed and the rough diamonds are extracted. Depending on how rich the ore is, a few hundred tons of ore might be sieved just to produce a single carat of gem quality rough diamonds.
Even after extraction, the precious gem is still far from being set in an engagement ring. Rough stones are then sorted into various gem-quality categories and industrial-specific grades. Thereafter, the roughs are sold, cut, polished and commercialised.

An estimated 10 million people globally are directly or indirectly supported by the diamond industry. From the countries where they are sourced to the countries where they are polished and sold, diamonds are supporting millions of people globally. In the African country of Namibia, the diamond mining industry is the largest single employer after the government. In Botswana approximately 25% of the labour force is directly or indirectly linked to diamonds.

“A Diamond is Forever” – NW Ayer Agency – One particular diamond producer got all the credit for this sentence that forever changed an industry, but the actual statement was delivered by an advertising agency. Before this impressive marketing campaign, diamonds were not necessary identified with romance, marriage or engagement. They were considered decorative jewellery and used for a variety of purposes. Then came the brilliant strategy of linking diamonds to the most sacred and beloved of American institutions; the wedding ceremony. However, one can’t truly say that prior to the 20th century, no lover had ever thought of diamonds as a romantic gift – in fact, one of the most famous diamond gifts in history was a diamond necklace given by Napoleon Bonaparte to Marie Louise.

And to end on a humorous note: “I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.” ― Mae West

References:

http://www.mbendi.com/indy/ming/dmnd/af/p0005.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open-pit_mining
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underground_mining_%28hard_rock%29

15 Amazing Facts about Diamonds

http://beyond4cs.com/faq/diamond-origins/how-they-are-mined/
http://news.sciencemag.org/africa/2015/05/rare-african-plant-signals-diamonds-beneath-soil
http://www.diamondfacts.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=86&Itemid=133&lang=en

About Marlaine Andersen

I have been working for Leads 2 Business, in the Private Projects Department, for 10 years this July. I am Deputy HoD for Private Projects. Researching mining projects and projects through-out the African continent are my areas of research and I find them most interesting.

Why be Revolutionary?

 

Leads 2 Business : Alternative Energy

 

I have enjoyed music all my life. There is no doubt that it plays an integral part of who I am. I enjoy anything from classical to rock to indie to reggae to alternative. In my choice alone, some would consider me a little unconventional. But that isn’t where it ends. I enjoy (exceptional) tattoos and consider it wearable art. Perhaps a little nonconformist I hear you say? Not to mention I like the idea of eco houses, container housing and other non standard building methods. Just because it is different, it doesn’t mean it is wrong. In fact, sometimes different can be exceptionally right.

I think most South Africans have gotten a good few picnic dinners with candles of late. Some relish the opportunity to ‘unplug’ from life and make the most of quality time with loved ones, while others lament lost time and money and the effect it is having on the economy.  I am fairly certain that Companies retailing solar panels, solar geysers and lights as well as generators thank Eskom profusely for their increase in revenue. Flipping a switch to only find yourself still standing in the dark, in winter especially, definitely brings you to looking at alternative methods of getting things done and wondering how long we, as a nation, can continue on this (dark) road.

 

We all know that our amazing nation has an abundance of natural resources. So why not utilise them? Enter the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (try say that fast five times over) aka REIPPP.  Say what? Well, the IPP procurement programme has been designed to contribute towards the target of 3725 Megawatts and socio economic and environmentally sustainable growth as well as to stimulate the renewable industry in South Africa.

 

The qualifying technologies in this programme are:

  • onshore wind
  • concentrated solar thermal
  • solar photovoltaic
  • biomass solid
  • biogas
  • landfill gas
  • small hydro

 

According to The Guardian ‘South Africa has been quietly creating one of the world’s most progressive alternative energy plans. Solar, biomass and wind energy systems are popping up all over the country and feeding clean energy into the strained electrical grid’. It seems that South Africa is taking revolutionary leaps forward in implementing clean energy solutions, but it also has the general view that it should be closely monitored.

The REIPP have recently added to their renewable projects currently underway in South Africa.  Some of these include:

 

Wind

  • Construction of the 140MW Roggeveld Wind Farm. The wind farm will be situated on farms surrounding Sutherland, in the Northern Cape. This forms part of the Window 4 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement REIPPP programme.
  • Construction of the 117MW Golden Valley Wind Farm located outside Cookhouse, in the Eastern Cape Province. This forms part of the Window 4 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) programme.
  • Construction of the Riverbank Wind Energy Facility: Phase 1 entails the construction and operation of a wind energy facility and associated infrastructure. This is also known as the Wesley-Ciskei (33 MW) which forms part of the Window 4 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement REIPPP programme.

 

Biomass

  • Construction of a 25M biomass-to-power plant, known as Ngodwana Biomass Power Project, located at Sappi’s Ngodwana mill, outside Nelspruit in the Mpumalanga Province. This forms part of the Window 4 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement REIPPP programme.

 

Solar Photovoltaic

  •  Construction of the 40MW Aggeneys Solar Photovoltaic (PV) energy facility located outside Aggeneys, in the Northern Cape Province. This forms part of the Window 4 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) programme.
  • Construction of the 75MW Konkoonsies 2 Solar Photovoltaic (PV) energy facility located near Upington, in the Northern Cape Province. This forms part of the Window 4 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) programme.
  • Construction of the 75MW Dyason’s Klip 1 Solar Photovoltaic (PV) energy facility located near Upington, in the Northern Cape Province. This forms part of the Window 4 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) programme.
  • Construction of the 75MW Dyason’s Klip 2 Solar Photovoltaic (PV) energy facility near Upington, in the Northern Cape Province. This forms part of the Window 4 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) programme.
  • Construction of the 75 MW Droogfontein 2 solar photovoltaic (PV) plant and all associated infrastructure on the Farm Droogfontein, in Kimberley, Northern Cape Province. This forms part of the Window 4 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) programme.
  • Construction of the 82.5MW Pulida solar photovoltaic park. The planned capacity will be 82.5 MWp DC – 75 mw ac and will be located on remainder portion of farm Klipdrift 20, Letsemeng local municipality, Xhariep district municipality, Free State province. This forms part of the REIPPP – Window 3 Projects.
  • Construction of the 75MW Sirus Solar Photovoltaic (PV) energy facility. The facility will be situated approximately 20km southwest of Upington, in the Northern Cape. This forms part of the Window 4 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) programme.

 

Hydro

  • Construction of the 5MW Kruisvallei Hydo located near Bethlehem, in the Free State Province. This forms part of the Window 4 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) programme.

 

I have heard the expression that ‘it’s never too late’ to start something. In the case of Eskom, I am sure some feel like they may be testing the boundaries of this expression. The point though, is that something is being done. Something quite revolutionary at that! So I for one, want to keep an eye on the array of projects to keep up to date with South Africa’s progressive steps toward creating clean energy for our overworked grid. I also think that it is maybe time that I start figuring out how to be part of doing something idiosyncratic in my nation instead of being part of the problem.  #Justsaying

 

About Carmen Barends

Social Media adventurer exploring new frontiers and learning how to survive. Tongue in cheek and mischief are the order of any good day topped with a sprinkling of laughter.