Tsodilo Resources Limited, the international diamond and metals exploration company, said it has been granted a prospecting license over the BK16 kimberlite pipe located within the Orapa Kimberlite Field in Botswana. BK16 is located 37 kilometers ESE of Debswana’s Orapa mine; 13 km NNE of its Letlhakane diamond mine and 28 km ENE from Lucara Diamond Corporation’s Karowe mine.
Botswana diamond mines have produced an average of 27 million carats annually in the last 10 years and Botswana is the world’s largest producer of diamonds by value. The license grants the company the exclusive right to prospect for precious stones for an initial period of 3 years commencing October 1, 2014.
Dr. Mike de Wit, President and COO of Tsodilo, noted that his company is delighted to secure the exploration license in the diamondiferous BK16 kimberlite pipe saying the development affords them an opportunity to accelerate our kimberlite exploration and evaluation efforts in the largest diamond producing country by value in the world.
“There has been a growing trend in Botswana focusing on brown-fields exploration where more modern evaluation techniques are being applied to previously discovered kimberlites. This has, in many cases, improved diamond grades, and coupled with increasing diamond prices, has resulted in projects now meeting the required hurdle rates,” he said.
“Botswana is renowned for its investor-friendly environment, and is also served by an excellent infrastructure making it one of the lowest cost producers in the world.”
BK16, which was discovered in 1970, is known to be diamondiferous and was originally modeled to be 3.5 hectares in size although later work has suggested that the surface area of the kimberlite could be bigger. BK16 is part of the Orapa Kimberlite Field (“OKF”) in Botswana.
The bedrock of the region is covered by a veneer of Kalahari Group sediments and exposure is very poor. Rocks close to surface are often extensively calcretised and silcretised due to prolonged exposure on a late Cretaceous erosion surface (the African Surface) which approximates to the present day land surface. Previous work has indicated that the overburden over BK16 is 24 meters.
The OKF lies on the northern edge of the Central Kalahari Karoo Basin along which the Karoo succession dips very gently to the SSW and off-laps against the Precambrian rocks which occur at shallow depth within the Makgadikgadi Depression.
The OKF includes at least 83 kimberlite bodies, varying in size from insignificant dykes to the 110 ha AK1 kimberlite which is Debswana’s Orapa Mine. All kimberlite intrusions are of post-Karoo age. Of the 83 known kimberlite bodies, nine, AK1 (Orapa, Debswana); AK6 (Karowe, Lucara Diamond Corporation); BK1, BK9, BK12 and BK15 (Damtshaa, Debswana); DK1 and DK2 (Letlhakane, Debswana); BK11 (Firestone Diamonds), and have been or are currently being mined.
A bulk sample grade of 15 cpht for BK16 was reported by Firestone Diamonds based on work previously performed. Diamonds recovered by the limited sampling carried out by Montgomery, SouthernEra (Pty) Ltd,, Firestone Diamonds and others have been predominantly high quality, white gemstones, with few industrial diamonds. This indicates that diamonds from BK16 are likely to have a high average value. The grade reported for BK16 is similar to that reported on work done on AK6 in the early 1990’s (then 17 cpht). A larger scale bulk sampling program carried out on AK6 in 2005 by the De Beers/African Diamonds joint venture yielded a substantially higher grade of 24 cpht. AK6 is known today as the Karowe mine and is operated by Lucara Diamond Corporation.
Tsodilo is planning an evaluation program that will include detailed geophysics and core drilling to more accurately establish the size and internal geology of the kimberlite. Dependent on the results of the diamond drilling which would include petrographic, mineral chemistry and micro-diamond results, 24 inch large diameter drilling would follow to recover a representative bulk samples from the different kimberlite phases in order to establish a grade and average diamond value with more confidence. The plan is to complete the first phase of bulk sampling in the first year.
The company owns 75% of Bosoto with local partners holding the remaining 25%. The board of Bosoto is composed of Messrs Bruchs and Cushing and Dr. de Wit on behalf of Tsodilo and recently appointed members, Messrs Blackie Marole and Johannes de Wet.
Blackie Marole is an economist by profession who has, over a period of 30 years, held various senior positions in the banking, government and mining sectors. He retired in 2010 after six years as Managing Director of the Debswana Diamond Company. While in government, Marole held the role of Permanent Secretary for seven years where he was responsible for the overall supervision of the formulation of policies, coordination and management of the affairs of the Ministry responsible for Minerals, Energy and Water Resources. He currently serves as Chairman of Botswana Development Corporation and African Energy Botswana (Pty). He was Chairman of Barclays Bank of Botswana and Botswana Diamond Valuing Company, a Director of DeBeers, the Diamond Trading Company, BCL, CIC Energy Corp. and the former Chairman of Botswana Power Corporation and Water Utilities Corporation. He has also served as the Chairman of the Privatization and Outsourcing Agency of Botswana.
Johannes de Wet serves as the Technical Director of DeWetDrilling and various other companies in the DeWetDrilling Group of Companies. He has gained vast experience in the field of most drilling disciplines over a period of 25 years in Southern Africa. Of particular importance is his expertise in diamond exploration and bulk sample drilling operations. He was the designer and manufacturer of the renowned Elephant mobile drill rig deployed in Large Diameter Fluid Reverse Circulation kimberlite bulk sampling operations all over Southern Africa during the past decade.
He is also the Chief Technical Officer of Bauer De Wet Equipment (Pty) Limited where he was tasked with the conceptualization, design and manufacture of the 90 tonne Buffalo multi-purpose drill rig primarily developed for the shallow onshore oil and gas market as well as the Rhino 1300 range of tracked blast hole drill rigs. The Buffalo 90 is capable to satisfy directional drilling requirements down to 2,000 meters.