KwaHlathi: Unidentified stones that lured thousands of fortune seekers to a rural South African village to mine the land with picks and shovels were not diamonds as hoped, officials said on Sunday (June 20), but quartz stones with relatively low, if any, value, according to Reuters' report.
Last week, over 1000 fortune seekers flocked to the village of KwaHlathi in South Africa`s KwaZulu-Natal province in search of what they believed to be diamonds after the discovery of unidentified stones in the area, said the report.
According to the report, people travelled from across South Africa to join villagers who have been digging since June 12, after a herd man who dug up the first stone on an open field, put out the word.
Without even an analysis report, the enthusiasm of people regarding the stones did not deter and they continued to dig and some sold those stones at the starting price ranging from 100 rands ($7.29) to 300 rands.
But as the analysis reports come, it turns out that those stones are mere quartz which is relatively of far lower value than a diamond. Quartz is just a hard crystalline mineral formed with silica and is nowhere near diamonds in terms of expensive gems.
Ravi Pillay, who is a Provincial executive council member for economic development and tourism, told Reuters that at least three thousand people travelled across Africa in search of fortune since the word was put out.
"The tests conducted conclusively revealed that the stones discovered in the area are not diamonds as some had hoped," he told Reuters, adding they were in fact quartz crystals.
"The value, if any, of the quartz crystals is yet to be established but it must be mentioned that the value of quartz crystals is very low compared to that of diamonds," he further said.
Meanwhile, the number of people mining the land had dwindled to less than 500, Pillay continued, though significant damage had already been done with an area of around 50 hectares covered in holes of up to one metre, posing a danger to cattle.
The event had highlighted the socio-economic challenges faced by local people, he continued. Like many areas in South Africa, high levels of unemployment and poverty have left communities living hand to mouth.