Monday, 28 April 2014

Clash of the Diamonds

Central to the resettlement of Bushmen Communities from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is a war of words about the role and impact of the mining of diamonds in the Reserve. It erupted when the resettlement started during 2007 and Bushmen communities started to point fingers at the Botswana Government's prospecting of diamonds in the reserve. According to the Government this was never the issue and according to the Bushmen it was the only issue. Nevertheless the Bushmen have been resettled and the Diamond mine at Gope was opened by Gem Diamonds. The reality of the matter is that things will never be the same, and even if the Bushmen do return to the Reserve they will never be able to adapt to their age old nomadic lifestyle again. Too much have changed for them. That is the hard reality.

But how have diamonds ended up in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve? That I think is the wrong question. Rather one should ask: How have the Reserve ended up between the diamonds? Most probably when the Reserve was proclaimed in the early sixties knowledge about the existence of diamonds in the reserve never existed. One need to a qualified geologist to really understand how all of this comes together and for the layperson all the geological jargon is very much Greek. The map below nevertheless gives a clue how this actually "works". The alkaline volcanic pipe lineament displayed on the map below pinpoints to diamond bearing soils and rocks along this lineament. Diamonds are formed plenty of years ago under extreme heat and pressure conditions, deep within the Earth's mantle at a depth of between 100 -200 km below the surface. They are then brought to the surface of the Earth by kimberlite explosions, once again plenty of years ago.

This is where the greatest possibility is for finding diamonds and indeed is proved by the existence of diamond mining operations all along this lineament. Number 16 on the map is the mining operations at Gope, in the south of the CKGR, with number 15 further to the south the operations at Khutse, and to the north at number 17 the operations at Orapa. An article that explains to background to this map was published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters. A copy can be downloaded here. Unfortunately at cost.    

So where does all of this leave the Bushmen of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve? Only time will tell but for now sustainable ways need to be found to help The Central Kalahari Bushmen to edge out for themselves an existence where all the odds seems to be stacked against them. This is rather an urgent cause.

Key to pipe clusters: 1. Namaqualand olivine melilitites; 2. Bushmanland olivine melilitites; 3. post-Karoo diatremes; 4. Pofadder kimberlites; 5. Ariemsvlei kimberlites; 6. Noeniputs kimberlite; 7. Rietfontein kimberlite; 8. Southern Botswana kimberlites; 9. Kolongkweneng kimberlites; 10. Tsabong-Molopo kimberlites; 11. Khekhe fissure; 12. Mabuasehube kimberlites; 13. Kokong kimberlites 14. Kikao kimberlites; 15. Khutse kimberlites; 16. Gope kimberlites; 17. Orapa 19: Binga kimberlites and Katete carbonatite; 20. Sengwa kimberlites; 21. lower Luangwa (Kaluwe) carbonatites; 22. Kapamba lamproites; 23. Mushinje kimberlites; 24. Isoka kimberlites
The start of mining Operations Gope Mine
Image Credit: Gem Daimonds

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