(NEWS) Banda:: Source of dazzling diamonds
DGM's prospect pit, Banda District, Uttar Pradesh, India. The 0.44 carat diamond was recovered from a layer at the present water line.
The U.P. Banda prospect lies within a salient in the Uttar Pradesh border, immediately east and north of the neighbouring state of Madhya Pradesh, and 40 km north of the Panna District. Among the several known diamond districts in India, Panna is the most prolific producer at present. The principal operator at Panna, National Mineral Development Corp. ("NMDC"), reported production of 71,000 carats from tuff facies in kimberlite pipes in fiscal year 2003-4. Total Panna production to date is 810,000 carats. NMDC's operation was suspended in 2005 because of a court decision -- it was discovered that many years ago, before systematic mining was started -- that the mine area had been set aside as a park, and the court ruled that land status had to be sorted out before mining could continue.
In addition to NMDC's operation, numerous informal individual miners are also producing in the region, including our Banda prospect, and their production is largely unrecorded. A guess as to their annual production is 10,000 to 20,000 rough carats.
West of Panna another 15 kimberlite pipes have been discovered recently by Rio Tinto according to public statements by Biplob Chatterjee, Exploration Manager – India for Rio Tinto. Drilling is in progress at present.
The Uttar Pradesh Directorate of Geology and Mining ("DGM") conducted a systematic study of the diamond potential in Banda District in the past few years. Three years ago they dug a prospect pit and found a 0.44 carat rough diamond worth about Rs.25,000 (about US$500) in Quaternary bench gravels.
The pre-ore rock formation, in which diamond-bearing pipes could occur, is the Archean Bundelkhand granite. On scattered flat-topped hills, the granite is capped by the late Proterozoic Vindhyan conglomerate and mantles of talus. Nearly everywhere else -- most of the area -- the granite is concealed by a flat blanket of Quaternary alluvium of the Yamuna and Ganges floodplain. This means there is plenty of room for exploration with modern methods.
East of Panna and south of Banda, diamonds have been found and
mined from a “fossil” placer deposit in the Vindhyan formation. For
many years it has been a common assumption that the Vindhyan
diamonds were derived from the bedrock pipes of Panna. This
assumption has been challenged by recent scientific work.
In November, 2006 the Company executed a Consulting Services Agreement with De Beers India Pvt. Ltd. De Beers has the right to conduct exploration on the Banda prospect to earn an 85% interest. Hirakund's 15% interest is carried through the feasibility study stage if De Beers elects to continue exploration to that point. As noted in Pebble Creek's news release of March 6, De Beers has started work on Banda. In May De Beers brought in an aircraft operated by the geophysical contractor Fugro to begin flying a manetometer survey on the area.