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Diamonds 101: How They Form and How They're Found

Diamonds truly are one of Mother Earth's simplest,

yet most complex, forms of natural beauty,

comprised of just one element: carbon.

Diamonds are considered to be the hardest substance on Earth

and derive their name from the Greek word

adamas which means unconquerable.

Natural diamonds formed over billions of years ago,

in some cases, over more than three billion years.

And joining us to educate us on all things diamond

are representatives from Lucara Diamond Corp,

William Lamb and Eira Thomas.

Welcome to the show.

- Thank you.

- Thank you very much.

- This is such a fascinating, and

such a fun topic.

I mean, let's face it, we're talking about diamonds.

This is spectacular.

Let's first talk about just the basics.

How diamonds are formed, some folks at home

might not know how this actually happens.

- Sure.

Well, first off, diamonds are incredibly rare.

They are the purest form of transparent carbon,

and they form under tremendous pressure and depth,

typically about 150 kilometers below the Earth's surface.

They are then transported to the surface of the Earth

in volcanoes, and they're very special volcanoes

that we refer to as kimberlites.

And those are the deposits, then, that we search for,

and it can typically take up to 10 years

of searching before you find a kimberlite deposit,

and thereafter, it can be another 10 years

before you actually determine whether or not

it contains enough diamonds to be economic.

- It's crazy to think about all that goes into

forming a diamond, and I would imagine,

if you're mining these gems, these stones,

when you find one, it must feel incredible.

Talk to me about that.

- Beth, can you imagine what you feel

if your phone rings at two o'clock in the morning?

- Right, you're scared.

- Exactly.

Generally, that's bad, and when I was chatting

to our CEO after we recovered the Lesedi,

his words to me were, "Are you sitting down?"

And of course, you then know that it's bad news.

And what followed was, "Congratulations!

We're the first company in more than a hundred years

to recover a diamond over 1,000 carats.

- Wow.

- And 1,000 carats is significant,

and there's the sense of euphoria, but

no real words to explain how you actually feel.

It is quite a momentous occasion, and I think,

anybody who works in the diamond industry, in their career.

- I would imagine your heart just beats a little bit faster.

We actually have that diamond.

Olga's gonna show us that in just a few minutes,

which we're super excited about.

But let's talk about the process.

It's a journey, quite a journey, from

finding the diamond, from mining it, to what we see

when we think of diamonds in our jewelry stores.

- [Eira] Correct.

Diamonds are incredibly rare, and

they're very difficult to find, and it can take

decades to actually make a discovery that

will go on to become a commercially-producing

diamond mine.

So the process is very involved.

We as geologists spend a great deal of time

identifying areas to go and explore,

and then, if we are lucky enough to make a discovery from

drilling, it then is a whole second process, where

we actually then have to go on to understand

the overall grade of these deposits

in carats per ton, and then we have to

understand the diamond value.

- And one of the things that I find incredibly fascinating,

with Lucara, you're not just about

the corporate bottom line when it comes to diamonds.

There's so much more about ethically mining diamonds

and then affecting the entire community, as well.

- That's a very good point, though.

Our mine is in Botswana, and I think

it's very important for everyone to understand

that they are not our diamonds.

Those are Botswana's diamonds.

We are there just as a facilitator,

to extract the value, provide our experience

to be able to add value back into the country.

And if you look at Botswana, it's most probably

the perfect model where mining has actually made

an enormous difference to the overall

economic situation within the country.

But on a micro level, the impact that we have

within the local communities in which we operate,

it's vitally important for us to make sure

that there are sustainable skills left when we leave.

And we have a grant program, we call it KEEF,

the Karowe Emerging Entrepreneurs Fund,

where we have grants which have been provided to

very business-orientated people.

And it's through that process, we can actually then encourage

additional businesses outside of the mining

which will be there long after we're gone.

- You both are just a wealth of knowledge.

Thank you so much for joining us this morning.

It has been absolute pleasure chatting with you.