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Wednesday, 4 September 2013
Pangolin Diamonds boasts exploration legends on the ground in diamond haven Botswana
Pangolin Diamonds (CVE:PAN), fully funded to complete its 2013 exploration and drilling plans, made headlines at its Tsabong North project in Botswana earlier this year with the discovery of two kimberlites within a few months of starting drilling — and the Toronto-based explorer’s ambitions for the future are no less impressive, with management targeting at least 15 kimberlite discoveries by year end with the hope that at least one of these will be diamondiferous.
Pangolin’s management and team leaders are equipped with over 135 years of combined diamond exploration experience in the region. Fittingly, Pangolin boasts as one of its directors Dr. Leon Daniels, a mining veteran with almost four decades of diamond exploration experience, much of it carried out in Africa.
After discovering the Klipfontein kimberlite pipe in South Africa early in his career, Dr. Daniels also discovered the Mambali kimberlite field in Zimbabwe and notably the DK4 kimberlite, which holds the distinction of being the only kimberlite in the Orapa kimberlite field not discovered by De Beers.
Dr. Daniels shows no signs of slowing down, having co-founded African Diamonds (AIM:AFD), which was subsequently acquired by Lucara Diamond (TSE:LUC), one of the Lundin group of companies, in 2010, for $100 million.
The Pangolin team was further strengthened in June by the addition of Manfred R. Marx, a prominent geologist who led the field team that discovered the De Beers Orapa Diamond Mine -- the second largest open pit diamond mine in the world -- as a consultant to Pangolin’s on-site exploration team. Marx has over 45 years of diamond exploration and discovery experience.
It was on Dr. Daniels’ watch, however, that Pangolin discovered two near surface kimberlites — each believed to be greater than 20 hectares — during this current calendar year at the Tsabong North project, an achievement all the more notable when tempered with the knowledge that only seven new kimberlites have been discovered in the country in the past five years. In addition, 45 mantle derived garnets inclusive of high pressure garnets were discovered in one of the drill core holes 22 metres below the surface.
Of Pangolin’s projects, 100 per cent owned Tsabong North, located approximately 100 km north of the town of Tsabong in southwestern Botswana, shows the most outwardly noticeable signs of mineralization.
The 1,545 km2 property, comprised of anomalous concentrations of kimberlite indicators, is also signposted by large geo-botanical features so apparent they are visible on Google Earth. The explorer has identified more than 50 drill-ready aeromagnetic targets in the project area, several of which have surface areas exceeding 20 hectares.
Soil sampling has turned up highly anomalous concentrations of kimberlite indicators within the project area inclusive of G10 garnets. The current drill core results suggest there is more than one kimberlite source in the project area.
Certainly, the project is in the right neighbourhood -- the Tsabong North Project is situated immediately north of the diamondiferous Tsabong kimberlite field that hosts the M-1 pipe, the largest known diamondiferous kimberlite pipe in the world. That pipe has a Pangolin connection, as it was Dr. Daniels, now Pangolin's single largest shareholder, who developed the geological model of the 180 hectare M-1 pipe as part of the Falconbridge team led by Chris Jennings. Dr. Daniels’ connection with the area continues, as he was also directly involved in the discovery of several new kimberlites in the Tsabong kimberlite field.
Tsabong North, the site of current drilling, was selected for what was felt to be significant potential “because in the known Tsabong kimberlite field there are many large kimberlites,” says Dr. Daniels, and large, he points out, means more than 20 hectares, equating to a potential 25-year mine life.
The largest known kimberlite covers 180 hectares, making the size of the targets Pangolin is turning up, based on independent geo-physicists assessments of the data, all the more impressive. “The largest one they are modelling is 270 hectares,” says Dr. Daniels. “There are two other clusters of targets in that small confined area — one potentially is 175 hectares, and the other potentially is 170 hectares.”
By way of contrast, the largest mine in size in Botswana is Orapa, which covers 116 hectares, while the largest in world, Mwadui in Tanzania, covers 143 hectares.
Another of Pangolin's four project areas, the Jwaneng South site, is in a similarly good neighbourhood, located 50 km south of the mine that holds the distinction of the richest diamond mine in the world by value, De Beers’ Jwaneng mine.
The 799km2 property has already been the subject of a detailed aeromagnetic and radiometric survey, which identified multiple large aeromagnetic anomalies commonly associated with kimberlites.
In addition, a well defined geo-botanical anomaly, a thicket of tall thorn trees with deep roots with a diameter of 1.4 km — reminiscent Dr. Daniels says of the “very distinctive” anomaly that marked Orapa, so clearly pilots used to use it as a navigational beacon -- provided a target for a ground gravity survey.
The survey included findings such as the discovery of kimberlite indicator garnets in soil samples and an isolated gravity low similar to gravity lows associated with the nearby Jwaneng mine kimberlites and others in this field.
Drilling on the site is to commence in the third quarter of 2013, with “over 25 targets” already selected, according to Dr. Daniels.
The Mmadinare project, which covers an area of 1,345 km2, has similar geological terrain to that hosting the Venetia, Martins Drift and The Oaks diamond mines, and has already been the subject of aeromagnetic surveys with kimberlite indicator minerals reported on the site by DeBeers, which prospected there in the past.
On that site, replete with infrastructure, Dr. Daniels says: “We’re targeting 2 to 5 hectare high grade kimberlites, that we can put into production ourselves at low cost.”
This low cost production will come at least in part due to the fact that the near surface deposits do not require drilling. “We simply dig exploration pits similar to the pits that discovered Orapa,” says Dr. Daniels. “We can sample down 30 meters.”
The company’s Malatswae project covers an area of 1,616 km2, and has been the subject of detailed aeromagnetic surveys and extensive soil sampling data, which turned up anomalous garnets; the site’s garnet chemistry indicates an unknown kimberlite source, that is, a separate mantle source to any known kimberlite field.
Malatswae South is to have a mainly alluvial focus stemming from the Orapa kimberlite field 70 kilometres distant, one of the few major diamond-producing fields that doesn’t have any significant alluvial finds associated with it.
“Over the past 20 years I’ve been tracking some paleo rivers now covered by Kalahari Desert sands,” says Dr. Daniels, “and we’ve finally found an area that we believe will yield a deposit of diamonds. One channel is about 400 metres wide and 20 metres deep. It’s a major river system that’s very capable of transporting diamonds. There’s nothing to trap the diamonds so they keep on moving; we’ve located a place where a major dike cuts across the directional flow of the river ... and that’s the ideal position to drop down diamonds. We fully expect to find potholes there [in the riverbed].”
“This is the ideal environment to find significant potholes with very high concentration of diamonds. I’m expecting to find high quality diamonds and large diamonds at high concentrations within the alluvials.”
Near-term company plans are to continue drilling at Tsabong North and commence drilling at Jwaneng South, as well as to continue follow-ups with ground magnetics, gravity, trace element and indicator sampling in selected areas. The completion of an NI-43-101 on Jwaneng South is also a plan going forward as is advancing work on the alluvial sites.
The setting is entirely appropriate for a company with such an abundance of reputation and expertise: Botswana too has a rich and storied history in diamond mining, holding the distinction of the largest diamond-producing country in the world when calculated by value.
With its politically stable regime and transparent mineral tenure system, the stable southern African nation of Botswana is rated the number one country for mining in Africa by the Fraser Institute.