In Western Australia, the discovery of nine tiny diamonds in a river bed on the southern fringe of the Kimberley Mountain range in the late sixties has sparked off a prospecting scramble.
AV Diamond diggings, Mt. North near Derby, Australia (5 shots)
AV Mining camp
Sv & GV Stock-market (10 shots)
GV Broome, Mines Department office, maps (4 shots)
AV Diamond mine and area (3 shots)
CU Newspaper headlines
SV Bar people talking, looking at newspaper in Derby (3 shots)
PRIDE: "Australia's diamond hopes lie in this patchwork of diggings at Mount North near Derby. It's the work of a consortium known as the Ashton Joint Venture. Diamonds are found in small, crater-like areas like these, usually lighter in texture and colour, where molten rock from deep in the earth has burst to the surface, usually bearing those tiny chips of crystallised carbon that we call diamonds. These areas are known as Kimberlite pipes. The Ashton Venture has found twenty-six such pipes. Surface samples from an unspecified number of them have yielded two hundred and fifty carats of gem and industrial quality diamonds. The pipes rang in size up to one hundred and fourteen hectares, huge by international standards. So it requires only one or two of the twenty-six pipes to contain a commercial grade for the Ashton find to rank with the world's best. The Ashton managers Cinizinc Riotinto Australia, have refused consistently to be more specific about the results, much to annoyance of other explorers, entrepreneurs and the stock-market generally. The Kimberley diamond rush was the high point of the stock exchange year. Bored with the economic malaise and hungry for some of the old excitement, the share market responded to the Ashton news with a predictable zeal reminiscent.....of the nickel boom. Suddenly diamonds were fashionable, and the merest mention of them in any company report or statement was enough to send that stock into orbit. Promoters were among he quickest to act and exploration names thought forgotten were back on the boards fetching seven and eight time their worth. The diamond rush took officialdom by surprise. It saw the local Mines department office Broome swamped with claims creating a long jam of official forms and diagrams that will take months to clear. Pieced together they form a huge jigsaw surrounding the Ashton find. There are nearly six thousand claims to he plotted and processed and later officially surveyed. Unlike most other minerals, assessing the worth of a diamond
province is very much a gamble. The Ashton group says it still isn't sure if it has a viable mine and is spending ten million dollars this year alone on plant and a testing programme to establish the grade. Other explorers refuse to believe the project is not further advanced. But who can tell? It's a private road that leads to the site and entry is by C.R.A. invitation only. In fact, strict secrecy and security has been a central policy of this venture from the outset. The extend of the find was kept secret for more than four years. With the scene now crowded with other explorers, secrecy is more important to the consortium than ever. And while the idea in the past was to discourage speculation, it now has the reverse effect. The bars in Derby are always alive with rumours and diamond talk".
The British group, Selection Trust Specialists in diamond exploration and the de Beer subsidiary Stockdale, are also involved in the search for diamonds.
REPORTER: BOB PRIDE
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: In Western Australia, the discovery of nine tiny diamonds in a river bed on the southern fringe of the Kimberley Mountain range in the late sixties has sparked off a prospecting scramble. The most optimistic surveys suggest the existence of a diamond bearing area larger than any other in the world. And this had led to the biggest Australian mineral boom since the search for nickel in the 1960's. The Australian Broadcasting Commission's Bob Pride, reports on the highly secretive and competitive mood surrounding one company's diamond search.