Gemstones that sparked a diamond rush in eastern South Africa last week have turned out to be just quartz, according to preliminary findings.
Thousands of people had flocked to a hillside in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province since June 12 to dig for mysterious stones first unearthed by a cattle herder and believed to be diamonds.
Provincial executive council member for economic development and tourism, Ravi Pillay, told a media briefing on Sunday he had counted some 3,000 diggers there during a visit to the site.
The rush prompted the government to send geoscientists and mining experts to collect samples for testing.
The results quashed the dreams of diggers hoping to come up with a fortune.
The report said the site — more than 300 kilometres south-east of Johannesburg — was near a sill of volcanic rock named dolerite, “which is not in a zone where diamond occurrences are present”.
It added that quartz crystals were common across a sedimentary basin known as the Karoo Supergroup, which stretches over the site, and particularly abundant along dolerite sill.
The prospect of finding a diamond had sent ripples of hope across one of South Africa’s poorest regions and beyond.