On 9 September 2021 at 1pm (SA time) we hosted a webinar with consulting geologist and independent diamond producer, Lyndon de Meillon on ‘The Amazing Alluvial Diamond Deposits of South Africa – An example of a ‘low-impact mining industry’ with huge benefits to local communities devastated by poor legislation‘. Lyndon was awarded a free membership to the ELA for 2021/2022.
As was discussed:
South Africa plays host to some of the most amazing diamond deposits in the world. The alluvial diamond production in particular is highly sought after for the size, colours and quality that is produced. South Africa hosts the highest average value per carat diamond mines in the world. These deposits are however ultra-low grade and are mined by small companies with an unusually high appetite for risk, that are highly skilled in low-cost earthmoving and have a very flat and low-cost management structure. Significantly, these deposits are situated in the rural areas of the Northern Cape and North West provinces where unemployment rates are upward of 70%.
The use of modern technologies have reduced the environmental impact of alluvial diamond mining significantly and the environmental footprint of the modern alluvial diamond miner is much smaller than that of 20 years ago. This was mainly brought on by improved screening technologies that allows the sand fraction (-5mm) material to be removed at the mining face to be used immediately for rehabilitation. This reduced the size of slimes dams as well as water usage by up to 90%. As most operators use pan plants for processing, no chemicals are used in any of the processes.
Over the past 19 years, after the implementation of the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act of 2002 (MPRDA), the number of alluvial diamond mining companies have shrunk by 90%. A recent study by the SAEON Institute at the Nelson Mandela University has confirmed that over-regulation, acts like the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) and a one-size-fits-all approach to legislation have added a huge cost burden to these small companies and was the main reason why we only have approximately 200 small companies left in the alluvial diamond mining space, compared to 2000 19 years ago.
At the webinar we learned about some of the challenges in obtaining authorizations for alluvial diamond mining, and the need for separate legislation for this sector. A recent study by AEON was discussed:
09 Sep 2021
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm