’Diamonds’ found by KwaZulu-Natal residents in KwaHlathi are worthless, say experts

’Diamonds’ found by KwaZulu-Natal residents in KwaHlathi are worthless, say experts


Durban – Residents from the community of KwaHlathi in KwaZulu-Natal had their hopes of striking it rich shattered at the weekend after a team of geoscientists and mining experts deployed by the provincial government concluded testing on the crystal stones that have been mined since earlier this month.

Thousands of residents from KwaHlathi, near Ladysmith, as well from other parts of the province, started illegally mining the stones in the hopes that they were diamonds, but the Council for Geoscience in South Africa told the African News Agency (ANA) on Monday that the stones are of no value.

“Based on the samples that were collected by some members of the community, their quartz was not of economic value. This could be attributed to the way it was extracted,” spokesperson for the council Mahlatse Mononela said.

Mononela said that the stones that have not been tampered with have not been ruled worthless as yet.

A team composed of members from the Department of Mineral Resources & Energy (DMRE), the Council for Geoscience, South African Diamond and Precious Metals Regulator, and Mintek, found the stones which were said to be diamonds are in fact quartz crystals.

Quartz crystals are a common sight across the Karoo Supergroup and parts of the Karoo dolerite sill, the team found.

Speaking during a virtual media briefing on Sunday, member of the executive council for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) Ravi Pillay said that the value of the stones, if any, will have to be determined but is far lower compared to diamonds.

A number of aesthetic qualities such as colour, clarity, size and uniqueness of the quartz determine its value, according to Rock Seeker, an online geology journal. The easiest way for people to sell quartz crystals next to a shop or event show will be online, according to a Rock Seeker report.

One of the biggest distributors of quartz crystals in KZN, Enchanted Earth, told the African News Agency (ANA) during an interview on Monday that they pay around R300 to R600 per kilogram for the quartz, depending on what style it is.

Enchanted Earth then either sells the crystal as is or transforms it into a piece of jewellery.

Quartz crystals with similar qualities to those found in KZN sell for between R200 to R360 per pound (around 450 grams) on Amazon, the largest online retailer in the world.

The recent mining activity in the KwaHlathi area has shone a light on social and economical challenges experienced by residents in the area, Pillay explained, adding that roads and access to water will be a focus for the government's plan to address the issues.

A plan to rehabilitate the land which was dug up by the residents will also be drawn up, he said.

“The Council for Geoscience, working with various stakeholders, will institute a geological mapping programme to further understand any other potential resources that may advance socio-economic development in KwaHlathi.

“Extensive geoscience studies are required in the area, at a regional scale, to investigate possibilities of groundwater resources as well as any other lithologies that may be host to other natural resources that may contribute to local development and the economy of the province,” Pillay said.

African News Agency (ANA)

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