Friday 24th November 2017

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘pakistan’

Authors William Dalrymple and Anita Anand consider responses to India and Pakistan’s rival claims to the Koh-i-Noor diamond, now part of Britain’s Crown Jewels

October 17th, 2017

…Read more

Pomp and plunder

September 23rd, 2017

Indians increasingly dominate diamonds, but their most fabled stone remains elusive

by Greg Klein

Maybe it’s fitting that Indians, said to be the first to truly appreciate the gems, have returned to such prominence in the global diamond trade. The country’s alluvial finds constituted the world’s main source until supplanted by Brazil in the early 18th century. Although Indians originally held rubies and emeralds in even higher esteem, their admiration for diamonds spread to neighbouring cultures and beyond. The story of the Koh-i-Noor shows how one stone came to be associated not only with beauty, majesty and mystery but, more recently, with controversy too.

Indians increasingly dominate diamonds, but their most fabled stone eludes them

By no means the largest diamond ever found, it’s nevertheless been credited with good luck and blamed for misfortune. Some viewers found it dazzling for its brilliance, others were disappointed by its dimness. But it passed through a number of empires, often amid horrific bloodshed, before ending up in Britain’s Crown Jewels. Authors William Dalrymple and Anita Anand recount the rock’s odyssey in their recently published Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond.

While revelling in the myths, legends, propaganda and guesswork associated with the stone, the writers try to set the historical record straight with previously untranslated documents and new gemmological research that reconstructs the Koh-i-Noor as a rough stone.

Ancient accounts refer to a number of large Indian diamonds which could include the Koh-i-Noor. Some were bigger and believed to transmit supernatural power, but the Koh-i-Noor eventually prevailed as the most renowned. Even so, the first definite written reference doesn’t come until the mid-18th century, referring back to northern India’s 17th-century Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.

Such was his captivation for precious stones that they all but monopolized his attention at a banquet featuring a dozen dancing girls of “lascivious and suggestive dress, immodest behaviour and posturing.” In 1635 he made the Koh-i-Noor the centrepiece of his Peacock Throne. An especially lavish piece of furniture meant to evoke the Koranic Solomon’s throne, it cost twice as much to build as the Taj Mahal.

Indians increasingly dominate diamonds, but their most fabled stone eludes them

The Queen Mother’s crown features the Koh-i-Noor
within a Maltese cross between two fleurs-de-lys.

Eventually the Mughals dismantled their seat of ostentation and the Koh-i-Noor became in turn a symbol of power for Persians, the Durrani Empire of Afghanistan and the Sikh empire, as each looting victor became a looted victim. Finally an 1849 treaty ending the Second Anglo-Sikh War ordered a terrified 10-year-old Maharajah Duleep Singh to surrender the celebrated stone to Queen Victoria.

Surviving a perilous voyage, the rock went on display to widespread public anticipation at the 1851 Crystal Palace Great Exhibition. It bombed.

Prince Albert tried to enhance the stone’s effect with gas lamps and angled mirrors. That fizzled too, as the props “turned the display into a sauna, causing visitors to swoon after only a few minutes. The press began to blame the Koh-i-Noor for being difficult, as if it were some kind of contrary and disappointing child.”

Albert then summoned experts who agreed that the diamond “was flawed at its very heart. Yellow flecks ran through a plane at its centre, one of which was large and marred its ability to refract light.” The authorities disagreed, however, on whether the gem could be re-cut without wrecking it. Eventually two of the world’s top pros arrived from Amsterdam and set to work with a state-of-the-art steam-powered grinder in a specially designed shop.

Their bill, for a few months of work, amounted to over a million pounds in today’s terms. Despite assurances to the contrary, moreover, they savaged the stone’s size from 190.3 carats to 93 carats. But dazzle it did. With an unusual symmetry of 33 facets each above and below the gem’s “table,” the cutters redeemed both the stone’s beauty and its public image.

Indians increasingly dominate diamonds, but their most fabled stone eludes them

It helped Victoria dazzle too, in those years before she went into morbid mourning. Waltzing with Napoleon III before 1,200 guests at Versailles, she wore a white satin gown and a diadem adorned with almost 3,000 small diamonds. Among them, the great K “gleamed like a third eye.” Other royal figures ordered it mounted and re-mounted on various regalia until the Queen Mother had it placed in its current crown. She sported the headgear at her daughter’s coronation. But for some reason (maybe trepidation about its supposed curse, the authors suggest), Elizabeth II has never worn it.

Since then, calls for its return have come from competitors, among them India, Pakistan and even the Taliban.

“Others have suggested that it be cut up once again and a piece each given to all those countries that make a credible argument for its return—including modern-day Iran and Afghanistan. But it is most unlikely that such Solomonic wisdom would ever be entertained by the British, nor indeed would it satisfy any of the various parties involved.”

The most persistent calls come from Indians. Equally tenacious has been Britain in its refusals. On a 2010 visit to Punjab, the authors relate, then-PM David Cameron said, “If you say yes to one you suddenly find the British Museum would be empty.”

Yet the country where the great diamond first came to prominence returned to diamond prominence itself late last century. Ironically that happened not due to gems of magnificence but through smaller, lower-quality stones originating in other countries and disdained by the rest of the trade. Through such humble beginnings, the west coast city of Surat now handles more than 80%, or even 90%, of the world’s cutting and polishing work. Mumbai, 290 kilometres south, hosts the world’s biggest diamond bourse. In the world diamond-sorting capital of Antwerp, Indians conduct about three-quarters of the business.

As for rough supply, Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO walked out on the country’s best hope for a major diamond mine in February, when the company handed ownership of the Bunder deposit, once anticipated for 2019 production, to the state government of Madhya Pradesh.

Meanwhile the Dalrymple/Anand book has reportedly spawned renewed activity in the search for India’s alluvial diamonds, maybe even another Koh-i-Noor, with all its blessings and curses.

Of diamonds and dynasties

August 4th, 2017

A new marketing approach accompanies Alrosa’s new emphasis on polished stones

by Greg Klein

A new marketing approach accompanies Alrosa’s new emphasis on polished stones

The Dynasty Collection celebrates Alrosa’s revival of Russian jewelry craftsmanship.
(Photo: Alrosa)

 

Legendary diamonds have long been associated with imperial dynasties. Now, just as a new book promises to revive interest in the multi-empire story of the fabled Koh-i-Noor gem, Alrosa has unveiled a suite of five stones commemorating great families of old Russia. In doing so, the mining giant marks a new emphasis not just on extracting exceptional stones, but cutting and polishing them too. The company says it will use state-of-the-art techniques to revive traditions dating back to Peter I.

A near-second to De Beers as the world’s largest diamond miner by value, Alrosa’s overall strategy might be to broaden diamonds’ appeal beyond the maybe one (or two, or sometimes profligately multiple) life events that call for an engagement ring.

A new marketing approach accompanies Alrosa’s new emphasis on polished stones

(Photo: Alrosa)

The company’s new quintet started as a single 179-carat rough with a name that evokes grandeur, but also tragic decline and a horrific ending: The Romanovs. One and a half years in the making, the polished collection’s centrepiece is The Dynasty, a 51.38-carat traditional round brilliant-cut stone “unprecedented in the history of Russia” as the most expensive and purest of all large diamonds cut in the country.

The set’s other four gems recall wealthy dynasties “that played a crucial role in the development of Russian jewelry”: The Sheremetevs (16.67 carats), The Orlovs (5.05 carats), The Vorontsovs (1.73 carats) and The Yusupovs (1.39 carats).

The collection goes on sale online—take that Christie’s, Sotheby’s and U.S. sanctions—in November.

But there’s no association stronger than actual ownership, and in that regard the Koh-i-Noor might be the most esteemed of all diamonds. In a soon-to-be published book of the same name, authors William Dalrymple and Anita Anand track “the history of the world’s most infamous diamond.”

Here’s a rock that gained prominence in northern India’s 17th century Mughal dynasty, was pillaged by 18th century Persians and retrieved from the corpse of their assassinated ruler by Ahmad Shah, who wore the jewel himself while building the Durrani Empire of Afghanistan. His successors lost the gem, along with considerable territory, to Sikh emperor Ranjit Singh. The authors credit this early 19th century ruler with boosting the diamond’s prestige to an unprecedented level. Following his death and the Sikhs’ defeat at British hands, the victors ordered that the Koh-i-Noor “shall be surrendered by the Maharajah of Lahore to the Queen of England.”

Along with Cullinan I and Cullinan II, the world’s largest top-quality polished stones, the Koh-i-Noor takes its place in the Crown Jewels. Both India and Pakistan want it back.

The book’s publicist promises a saga of “greed, murder, torture, colonialism and appropriation.” But extracting the stones can come at a terrible cost too, and one doesn’t have to delve into history to realize that. Just days after Alrosa unveiled The Dynasty collection, the company reported nine miners missing after a flood at the Mir diamond mine in the far eastern Republic of Sakha.

A steady source of plus-sized rough, Sakha mines gave up gems of nearly 110 carats and 75 carats just last month and, last year, a 207.29-carat stone. The Romanovs was found there in 2015.

A new marketing approach accompanies Alrosa’s new emphasis on polished stones

The Tenner, a £10 flea market
find, sold for $848,000.
(Photo: Sotheby’s)

Size and weight aren’t everything, however, as the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona continues to demonstrate. Lucara Diamond TSX:LUC has yet to find a buyer after rejecting a $61-million bid last year for the “tennis ball-sized” Botswana diamond, the largest ever found after South Africa’s 3,106-carat Cullinan that’s since been subdivided and relocated to the Crown Jewels with the Koh-i-Noor. Last May Lucara did sell a piece of its original stone, estimated to have been about 1,500 carats, when cutter Graff Diamonds paid $17.5 million for a 373.72-carat shard that broke off during the mine recovery process.

Another super-sized non-seller is the 709-carat rough found by an artisanal miner in Sierra Leone. He entrusted it to the government, which rejected a $7.8-million bid that failed to meet the stone’s valuation.

But sometimes there’s amazing value to be found among the dross. Thirty years or so after a Brit paid 10 quid for a piece of second-hand “costume jewelry,” the owner got around to asking Sotheby’s for an appraisal. The verdict? “A genuine cushion-shaped diamond weighing 26.29 carats with an attractive colour grade of I and impressive clarity grade of VVS2.”

In dollar terms, that meant a price estimated up to about $450,000. In June the hammer came down on $848,000.

See an infographic about legendary diamonds.

Athabasca Basin and beyond

March 2nd, 2014

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for February 22 to 28, 2014

by Greg Klein

Next Page 1 | 2

Radiometric results divert NexGen’s focus to new area of Rook 1

Following up on last week’s market-moving news, NexGen Energy TSXV:NXE reported more radiometric readings from the first hole on the Arrow area of its Rook 1 project. Obviously inspired by the results, the company has moved its other rig to Arrow “until additional rigs can be sought to drill the other 11 western-located Rook 1 target areas,” according to the February 24 statement.

Once again NexGen has found dozens of “significant”—if tiny—intervals of uranium mineralization from hole RK-14-21. By “significant,” NexGen means at least 0.05 metres reading over 500 counts per second, a measure of gamma radiation from drill core by a hand-held scintillometer. The significant readings started at 207.8 metres in downhole depth and ended at 583.55 metres. Drilling stopped at 663 metres. Two intervals maxed out the scintillometer at 10,000 cps.

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for February 22 to 28, 2014

Radiometric results from a single hole have turned
NexGen’s attention to the Arrow area of Rook 1.

The readings are no substitute for assays, which are pending. But an additional spectrometer scan “confirmed that all radiometric activity is due to uranium, with minimal or no thorium input.” Further encouragement came from three intercepts showing visible pitchblende.

Now in progress are two more holes, one collared from the same location but at a more shallow angle and another 30 metres northeast along strike. Now under revision is the company’s original 6,000-metre plan for the Patterson Lake South-adjacent project. Arrow has become the target.

On February 26 NexGen reported it closed a previously announced two-year extension to its 70% earn-in on the northeastern Athabasca Basin Radio project. Assays have yet to be released from Radio’s nine-hole, 3,473-metre program, which wrapped up last July.

Denison reports Wheeler River drill results, updates other projects

A downhole radiometric probe found high-grade uranium oxide-equivalent results for a new batch of holes at Denison Mines’ (TSX:DML) flagship Wheeler River project. The company holds a 60% interest and acts as operator in the southeastern Basin joint venture, with Cameco Corp TSX:CCO holding 30% and JCU (Canada) Exploration 10%. Collars for eight holes released February 26 were spaced over roughly 240 metres of the closely drilled zone A of the Phoenix deposit. The best intercepts show:

Hole WR-548

  • 29.61% uranium oxide-equivalent (eU3O8) over 6.5 metres, starting at 407.9 metres in vertical depth

Hole WR-550

  • 18.37% over 4.7 metres, starting at 407.3 metres

Hole WR-545

  • 16.98% over 3.1 metres, starting at 403.3 metres

Hole WR-539

  • 11.63% over 3.5 metres, starting at 401.6 metres

Hole WR-538

  • 2.14% over 5.1 metres, starting at 392.4 metres

  • 0.87% over 3.3 metres, starting at 403.8 metres

  • 1.36% over 1.4 metres, starting at 408.2 metres

  • 0.11% over 2.1 metres, starting at 426.4 metres

With vertical drilling and “roughly” horizontal mineralization, the company considers intercept widths equal to true widths. Assays will presumably follow these radiometric readings, which are no substitute for lab work.

So far 13 of 28 winter holes have been finished at zone A and an exploration target called the K zone. The latter showed no significant mineralization but Denison declared itself encouraged by “sandstone and basement alteration in three of seven wide-spaced drill holes, which will likely warrant follow-up drilling.” This winter rigs will also target Wheeler’s 489 zone, Phoenix North, K North and two DC resistivity-low anomalies, the company added. The project lies about 35 kilometres from the Key Lake mill.

In other Denison updates reported February 26, 10 holes at Hatchet Lake failed to find significant mineralization. The company will evaluate geochemical data before planning further work.

Ten holes at Moore Lake followed Hatchet’s example. Electromagnetic and DC resistivity surveys are slated for winter. Denison currently has drills turning at its Park Creek, Bell Lake and Waterbury Lake projects in campaigns scheduled for March completion.

Kivalliq announces ore-sorting and metallurgical progress at Angilak in Nunavut

Kivalliq Energy TSXV:KIV says metallurgical and ore-sorting tests from the Lac 50 deposit of its Angilak property provide encouraging news for the Nunavut project’s economics. Announced February 27, tests showed better than 95% uranium recovery in a 48-hour leach cycle, the ability to recycle all the primary alkaline leach reagents and production of 70% yellowcake meeting industry standards for uranium concentrate. The presence of boron and magnesium was “marginally higher than penalty levels but significantly below reject levels,” the company stated. Optimization tests continue.

Dilution could be reduced through radiometric ore sorting prior to milling. Tests showed a cumulative uranium recovery of 96.7% out of 49.2% of the extracted rock. In other words, 50.8% of the rock was rejected with loss of only 3.3% of uranium. The tests also showed 94.1% recovery from just 15.9% of the rock, when 84.1% of rock was rejected with a loss of only 5.9% of uranium.

“The testing reflects the high-grade uranium characteristics at Lac 50 where the majority of uranium mineralization occurs as disseminations and veins of massive pitchblende within the carbonate and hematite alteration zone” comprising the inferred resource, the company stated.

The resource boasts Canada’s highest grade outside the Athabasca Basin. Released in January 2013, the inferred category uses a 0.2% cutoff to show 2.83 million tonnes averaging 0.69% for 43.3 million pounds uranium oxide (U3O8). The inferred resource also shows 1.88 million ounces silver, 10.4 million pounds molybdenum and 15.6 million pounds copper. Kivalliq operates the 137,699-hectare project, 225 kilometres south of the hamlet of Baker Lake, in partnership with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

Kivalliq picked up another Nunavut property in October and moved into Saskatchewan last January.

Forum starts 3,000 metres at Clearwater

Adjacently southwest of PLS, drilling has begun at Forum Uranium’s (TSXV:FDC) 9,910-hectare Clearwater project. According to its February 26 statement, the company plans about 3,000 metres in 12 to 15 shallow holes between 100 and 200 metres in depth. Around 11 targets were chosen by previous surveys including ground gravity, airborne EM and radon work.

Initial drilling will focus on the project’s northern claim. Forum stated the central and southern claims require further ground gravity, ground EM and radon surveys to define targets.

The previous week Forum’s portfolio increased with the Fir Island acquisition east of Stony Rapids on the Athabasca Basin’s northeastern rim.

Lakeland Resources offers $2 million private placement for Basin exploration

Lakeland Resources TSXV:LK announced a private placement up to $2 million on February 24. The offer consists of three million flow-through units at $0.25 and 5.92 million non-flow-through units at $0.21. Each flow-through unit consists of one flow-through share and one-half non-flow-through warrant. Each warrant is exercisable for 12 months at $0.30. Non-flow-through units consist of one share and one warrant, also exercisable at $0.30 for a year.

Proceeds go to Athabasca Basin exploration, corporate development and general and administrative purposes.

In January Lakeland announced its 12,771-hectare Gibbon’s Creek project showed high-grade boulders up to 4.28% U3O8 and some of the highest radon readings ever measured in the Basin. As part of a 70% four-year earn-in, Declan Resources TSXV:LAN has committed $1.25 million to exploration this year.

Read more about Lakeland Resources here and here.

Next Page 1 | 2

Athabasca Basin and beyond

September 22nd, 2013

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for September 14 to 20, 2013

by Greg Klein

Next Page 1 | 2

Fission and Alpha sign acquisition agreement, Denison challenges Mega for Rockgate

Another burst of merger and acquisition activity hit the markets last week. Joint September 18 statements from Fission Uranium TSXV:FCU and Alpha Minerals TSXV:AMW announced a definitive agreement for the former’s acquisition of the latter. The proposed Mega Uranium TSX:MGA/Rockgate Capital TSX:RGT merger, however, took a surprising turn with Denison Mines’ TSX:DML unsolicited pitch for Rockgate. Denison’s September 17 announcement claimed a 38% premium over Mega’s offer, based on the previous day’s closing prices.

Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for September 14 to 20, 2013

In addition to taking a run at Rockgate, Denison filed a revised
43-101 report for six deposits on its Mutanga property in Zambia.

The Fission/Alpha rationale is to put their 50/50 joint venture under a single owner, creating a company solely focused on Patterson Lake South and presumably a more attractive takeover target. Their other properties would go to two newly created spincos. Should Denison’s offer succeed, the company would spin out its African assets along with Rockgate’s advanced-stage Mali project. That would leave Denison focused on the Athabasca Basin.

Read more about these proposals and other uranium M&A news.

(Update: On September 24 Rockgate terminated its proposed merger with Mega. Read more.)

PLS assay backlog grows as Fission/Alpha release more scintillometer results

Step-out drilling confirmed strong mineralization in Patterson Lake South’s newest zone, Alpha and Fission stated on September 16. The JV partners released scintillometer readings for two new holes on zone R945E, the fourth of four zones along a 1.02-kilometre southwest-northeast trend.

The hand-held device measures drill core gamma rays in counts per second, up to an off-scale reading above 9,999 cps. The results are no substitute for assays, which are pending.

Hole PLS13-092 was collared roughly 10 metres north of existing holes. It reached a total downhole depth of 377 metres, striking the basement unconformity at 59 metres without encountering sandstone. Some highlights include:

  • <300 to 1,400 cps over 3 metres, starting at 157.5 metres in downhole depth

  • <300 to >9,999 cps over 16 metres, starting at 163 metres

  • <300 to 1,800 cps over 11 metres, starting at 192.5 metres

  • 460 to 2,500 cps over 2.5 metres, starting at 238 metres

PLS13-096 was collared about 15 metres grid west of PLS-084, replacing it as the zone’s most southwesterly hole. It found no sandstone, hit the basement unconformity at 56.5 metres and stopped at 365 metres. Highlights include:

  • <300 to >9,999 cps over 42.5 metres, starting at 135.5 metres in downhole depth

  • 310 to >9,999 cps over 11.5 metres, starting at 185.5 metres

  • <300 to >9,999 cps over 10.5 metres, starting at 235.5 metres

  • <300 to >9,999 cps over 14.5 metres, starting at 249 metres

True widths weren’t available. The two holes were drilled at -88 and -89 degree angles respectively, making downhole depths close to vertical.

The $6.95-million program calls for 44 holes totalling 11,000 metres, along with geophysics. These results bring the summer’s drilling to 27 holes totalling 8,488 metres. So far just one of the holes has had lab assays released. Scintillometer readings have been reported for 18 holes this summer.

Denison files combined resources for Mutanga property in Zambia

Denison has filed a new NI 43-101 report to replace two previous reports for its Mutanga property in Zambia, the company announced on September 16. The New Mutanga Report follows an Ontario Securities Commission review of a resource filed in March 2012 for the property’s Dibwe East deposit. The OSC declared that report non-compliant because it didn’t include all resource estimates and material information for the property as a whole. Denison’s new report incorporates information covered in a 2009 report on the Mutanga and Dibwe deposits, as well as the 2012 info for Dibwe East.

Of the project’s six deposits, only Mutanga shows measured, indicated and inferred categories. Mutanga Extension, Mutanga East, Mutanga West, Dibwe and Dibwe East have inferred pounds only. Combined, the estimate shows:

  • a measured resource of 1.88 million tonnes averaging 0.048% for 2 million pounds uranium oxide (U3O8)

  • an indicated resource of 8.4 million tonnes averaging 0.031% for 5.8 million pounds

  • inferred resources totalling 65.2 million tonnes averaging 0.029% for 41.4 million pounds

The 457.3-square-kilometre property is about 200 kilometres south of the capital city of Lusaka, near the Zimbabwean border.

The previous week, Denison updated two Athabasca Basin projects with a new resource for Waterbury Lake and more high-grade assays from Wheeler River.

Lakeland Resources options gold project to focus on Athabasca uranium

Now a pure play uranium explorer, Lakeland Resources TSXV:LK optioned a north-central Ontario gold property to New Dimension Resources TSXV:NDR, the companies announced September 16. New Dimension may earn a 70% interest in the Midas project by paying $100,000, spending $1.2 million and issuing 1.5 million shares. New Dimension must spend $300,000 on exploration by December 31.

We’re maintaining our focus on uranium, yet we’re not giving away what could turn out to be a valuable asset in the end. In our view there’s no downside to our shareholders, only a potential upside.—Roger Leschuk, corporate communications manager for Lakeland Resources

The 2,112-hectare road-accessible property has already seen ground magnetics, induced polarization and 16 drill holes that partially defined two gold-bearing zones, with 14 holes showing gold mineralization. Among the assays was 5.92 grams per tonne gold over 4.7 metres, starting at 45.7 metres in depth and including 8.88 g/t over 2.6 metres.

“We get to maintain an interest in a property that looks very encouraging to say the least,” Lakeland corporate communications manager Roger Leschuk tells ResourceClips.com. “The people who are picking it up are a very good group and they see this as potentially becoming their flagship property. The great part about it for Lakeland is we retain a 30% interest all the way potentially to a new discovery. We’re maintaining our focus on uranium, yet we’re not giving away what could turn out to be a valuable asset in the end. In our view there’s no downside to our shareholders, only a potential upside.”

A fall drill program is expected to begin shortly, the companies stated.

Read more about Lakeland Resources.

Forum announces fall/winter plans for its PLS-adjacent Clearwater project

In a September 17 report, Forum Uranium TSXV:FDC updated its Clearwater project, which underwent ground radiometric prospecting, lake sediment geochemical surveys and soil radon surveys in late August and early September. The radon survey found anomalous zones immediately southwest of the adjacent PLS property, the company stated. Forum now plans further prospecting of radiometric anomalies, as well as an expanded radon survey to cover areas with electromagnetic conductors on strike with the PLS conductive trend. Autumn is scheduled for ground EM surveys and early winter for ground gravity work to identify drill targets for the 9,910-hectare property in late January.

One week earlier Forum said its private placement raised $2.59 million.

Next Page 1 | 2