Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Malaita diamond explorations

With the disappearance of SI forests, the search for alternative resources for exploitation is speeding up.

Most recent has been the focus on diamond exploration on Malaita. This week, Cabinet was briefed on the possibilities of microdiamond presence on Malaita by Prof. Ken Collerson of the University of Queensland.

According to Solomon Times Online, earlier this week he
"...told Government he was optimistic about the presence of diamond and other minerals because of his earlier finding about the presence of micro diamond in rocks obtained from Malaita."
Prof Collerson first raised this possibility in a 2000 Science article on the discovery of garnet minerals amongst surface rocks in the northern part of Malaita. While the geological significance of this discovery lay in the transport of very deep rocks (normally 400-670km under ground) to the surface very rapidly (ie in only 2-3 days), for Malaitans the significance was a potential mining industry.

Some 8 years later, the time for further exploration may have come. The current Minister for Mines and Energy, Edward Huniehu, has called for urgent aerial survey of the island.

In his statements to the media, Huniehu also quoted Collerson as indicating that:

...[he] believes Malaita has the geological potential to be a Greenfield exploration target for diamond, nickel, platinum group metal and gold.
Any such mineral discoveries on Malaita would help the government overcome two pressing development challenges:
  • the need for export earnings as logs run out (currently projected for 2010)
  • the need for large resource projects on Malaita to reduce interisland migration pressures and urban drift
Huniehu also announced the imminent engagement of an exploration group.
He said a Brisbane-based company, Geodiscovery Group, Prof Collerson and a co-consultant will work closely on the survey which should begin in August and would last six weeks.