In 2000, a small geological survey team from De Beers Ltd, the largest diamond mining company in the world and a global top 500 enterprise, moved into a camp on the banks of the Save river. They secured an Exclusive Prospecting Order (EPO) over a large area and began to probe for raw diamonds. They found ample evidence of diamonds and sent loads of soil to Johannesburg, South Africa, for analysis but after six years decided that the qualities of the stones on site were not good enough to warrant commercial exploitation.
In London another company, African Consolidated Resources (ACR), formed by a group of Zimbabweans, watched the developments very carefully. When De Beers failed to renew their EPO over the area, they moved very quickly to take up the EPO and registered claims over 3 800 hectares of land that they identified as having the most potential.
Under the guidance of an experienced Australian geologist, the company cut deep trenches across the site and in a matter of weeks discovered gem quality stones. Although less than 20% of all the stones recovered were in this category, they felt that it was commercially viable because of the low cost of extraction.
The ACR team on site did a full survey of the area and concluded that the field was made up of two distinct resources — a large area (it subsequently turned out to be over 60 000 hectares) of alluvial sands bearing raw diamonds washed out of the eroded agglomerate that formed the core of the find. These sands varied in depth and generally the richer deposits were quite deep and lying on the rock bed under the sand overlay.
The main deposit was a large sheet of agglomerate that lay across a low range of hills and varied in thickness from one to three metres. This hard form of sandstone was drilled and analysed and found to contain up to nine billion carats of diamonds. As such, it is one of the largest finds in history.
ACR was publically listed on a secondary London market and under the rules of the market they had to make a discovery of this magnitude known as it would affect the share price. Accordingly, some three months after they had found gem quality stones on site, they published the basic facts in the British press.
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