Historical Exploration and Mining
Most small and medium scale Alluvial Diamond mines are usually private family businesses which limits the availability of modern, published and reliable exploration and mining information on alluvial diamond deposits.
Historic information of the projects was mainly obtained through in-depth discussions with previous small-scale diggers and farmers and from consulting geologists who did work on the projects.
Large areas along the Vaal and Orange Rivers are covered by a very hard layer of calcrete, 0.5m-3m thick, which limits access to the underlying gravel horizons. The introduction of large modem earth moving equipment and drilling and blasting of the calcrete caps, and other technological improvements have resulted in some of the areas along the rivers being effectively explored since about 1996 by several Companies including Northern Cape Diamond Mining, Moonstone Diamonds (Australian), Pioneer Minerals, Gem Diamond Mining Corporation, Trans Hex, HC van Wyk Diamonds, Rockwell Diamonds, Bo-Karoo, KCME, DiamondCorp and Diamondcore Resources.
Trans Hex, a listed company which has very successfully mined alluvial diamonds for over 40 years, and other private operators like Sonop Mining (Chris Potgieter), Nelesco Mining and Schalk Steyn, have shown that alluvial mining can be successfully pursued.
Today virtually all the gravel resources between Douglas and Prieska are covered by means of mineral right application or existing mineral rights.
Alluvial diamond mining provides rapid start-up in respect of time to production, quick cash flow, capital and operating costs that are far lower than the costs of establishing kimberlite mines, mining equipment (earth moving fleets) and recovery plant that is almost all portable and mobile and diamond quality that is with few exceptions orders of magnitude higher than kimberlite diamond values.
Consequently, as a result of the above, there has been heightened interest in recent years in exploration support and investment for properly managed alluvial diamond producing companies. As the number of successful alluvial companies increases interest in this sector is likely to grow.