Australian company strikes quality gems

Announcing the results of its 2006 marine diamond sampling programme undertaken as a 70-30 joint operation with majority partner Diamond Fields International (DFI), the firm said that the results of its grid-based sampling programme show near continuous diamond mineralisation over a substantial cumulative area of approximately 290 square kilometres.

Bonaparte said that commercial mining could kick off in 2007.

Through its joint operations agreement with DFI, Bonaparte has two resource development areas in the Diaz area but falling under DFI’s licence. Diaz is located near the coastal town of Luderitz.

Mike Woodborne, Bonaparte’s managing director said the results are in line with those from other Namibian marine production areas.

Woodborne expressed hope that other sampled areas could have potential to support economic mining operations.

Namibia is known globally for its exceptionally high quality diamonds found both on and offshore.

Historically, 95 percent of marine gems found off the Namibian coast have been gem quality.

Woodborne said that the quality of stones recovered during the Bonaparte-DFI 2006 sampling programme are in line with that figure.

In the Diaz Point (area) 1, 44 percent of the diamonds recovered are 0.4 greater in size including 14 stones which are greater than 1 carat.

The four largest gems recoevered were 1.94 carat, 2.02 carat, 4.46 carat.

DFI has said that the 6.46 carat stone is among the largest diamonds recovered to date from the ML111 area.

The first parcel of 57 diamonds for 23.87 carats has been valued at an average of US$189 per carat whilst the largest stone in that parcel, 1.94 carat diamond was valued at US$787 per carat.

The lowest value was US$90 per carat for stones with an average carat mass of 0.18 carat.

“In line with out objective to establish early cash flow, we have initiated preliminary discussions with DFI on the commencement of joint mining operations in Diaz Point 1 (DP1) in 2007,” Woodborne said.

The mining operation would utilise DFI’s marine mining vessel mv DF Discoverer, which is already operating in the Diaz Reef mining area and the partners would split the operating costs and net mining revenue on a 70 percent (DFI):30 percent (Bonaparte) ratio.

Bonaparte said that because of the positive results from Diaz Point area 1, sampling for DP2 has been pushed forward to 2007.

Marine seismic surveys have identified additional targets in the Namib Project area, northern offshore Namibia.

Analysts forecast a world rough diamond deficit of around US$3 billion between 2008 and 2010.

Johannesburg based minerals and metals analyst James Allan said recently that demand for rough could increase between US$4 billion and US$5 billion between 2008 and 2010, greater than the 35 percent rises which occurred since 2002.

Analysts said that supply and demand conditions have prompted diamond miners to employ the latest generation of submarine remote sensing, exploration and mining technology.

Namibia’s diamond mining industry contributes 12.5 percent to GDP, accounts for 40 percent of export revenue and 7 percent of government revenue.

December 2006
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