Sunday, July 22, 2007

Diamon Hunt

The Weekend Star 1-2 September 2001 By Hannah Ross

THERE could be diamonds in the hills near Nimbin.

A Sydney-based mining and exploration company believes the hills to the east of Nimbin could be rich with precious gemstones including diamonds and sapphires. With luck, the company believes it could become a multi-billion dollar investment.

The company, Diamond Rose, is seeking a licence from the NSW Department of Mineral Resources to prospect in a 222-square kilometer area encompassing private land and parts of the Nightcap Ranges.

Diamond Rose manager Sholom Feldman said the company applied for the licence following reports from members of the public and prospectors of interesting minerals in the area.

“We’re not in the habit of applying for licences in areas we don’t think we’ll find anything in,” Mr Feldman said.

He said the company paid ‘a few thousand dollars’ to apply for the licence, which had not yet been granted.

A spokesperson for the Department of Mineral Resources said it received Diamond Rose’s application in May, but no date was set for a decision on its approval.

Mr Feldman didn’t think his company’s application would spark a local prospecting frenzy.

“It’s usually not that easy to go into your back yard and dig up a diamond. It’s quite a science. To the uninitiated eye, anything you pick up from the ground just looks like dirt,” he said.

What’s more, he said, all underground minerals officially belonged to the government.

The company has to pay royalties to the government on any precious discoveries.

And the miners can’t just turn up and start digging on private land – they have to negotiate access and financial rewards to private landowners on whose land valuable minerals are found.

“Generally landowners are pretty good, but if they don’t want to let us on their land, they don’t have to,” Mr Feldman said.

He said if the company was granted its licence, it would spend several thousand dollars carrying out initial geological surveys. It positive, these could lead to further exploration work in the area.

“We could be heavily surprised and it could become a multi-billion dollar scheme. Of course if we found a large deposit of diamonds we would be happy,” he said.

He said the company, whose exploration projects include areas of the Kimberley and Pilbara regions of Western Australia, rehabilitated any land it worked on to its original condition.

“Part of our focus ensures minimal if any environmental impact and very thorough rehabilitation. There are very strict environmental guidelines in place,” he said.

The guidelines include the prohibition of any prospecting in National Parks.