Spurred on by encouraging exploration, drilling and bulk sampling results, British-based international diamond exploration and mining company River Diamonds Plc is about to embark on a trial mining phase on its Panguma Dykes project in the west African country of Sierra Leone.
The River Diamonds Board has announced the completion of an internal scoping study on Panguma. As highlighted in the company’s recently released annual report, it has made considerable progress, completing the mini bulk sampling on two of the main Panguma targets and the drilling programme on the third. It has also identified several other kimberlite dykes within the licensed area which have yielded promising initial sampling results.
Subsequent work has focused on consolidating the information collected to date and understanding the scale and tenor of the kimberlite dykes. Currently the company estimates that those on the concession represent between 1 and 1.2 million tonnes of kimberlite. At an average grade of between 50 and 70 carats per hundred tonnes, this represents between 500 000 and 840 000 carats.
“At this stage, it is not easy to assess the value of the diamonds,” says River Diamonds chairman Colin Orr- Ewing, “as we have not recovered a sufficiently large parcel to evaluate. However, the directors believe that, given the recoveries to date and the average value of stone recovered from kimberlite dykes in the area, the expectation of an average value of between US$177 (R1 250) and US$200 R1 400) per carat is not unreasonable.”
Accordingly, River Diamonds is embarking on a trial mining phase in which it will look to extract a sample size sufficient to recover a minimum of 5 000 carats. It is anticipated that this will involve trial mining at regular intervals along the dykes, and possibly some additional drilling at those localities. Independent consultants have recommended the trial mining programme, which will allow the company to develop a resource model for the kimberlites.
“We are delighted with the fast progress we have made at the Panguma project,” Orr-Ewing remarks, “and the fact that we are now able to commence trial mining. We are encouraged by the exploration results we have recovered to date, and we believe that the Panguma project represents an exciting opportunity to gain early cash flows.”