Scottish Highlands set for Britain's first diamond rush

DIAMOND HUNTERS are increasingly confident that the Scottish Highlands hold untold wealth and may yield Britain's first haul of diamonds.

After panning rivers and lakes on five potential sites, they have subjected the fine dust to microscopic examination and have spotted chromites, often an indicator for the presence of gemstones.

Cambridge Mineral Resources (CMR), a Bristol-based exploration company, has spent the past six months searching sites which include Orkney, Uig on the Isle of Lewis, the area around Ben Hope in the north of Sutherland, the Isle of Colonsay and Lochaber.

Dust samples were sent for examination to a company belonging to Chuck Fipke, the explorer who discovered the multi-billion pound Ekati diamond deposits in Lac de Gras, northern Canada.

The latest hunt is based on the belief that, in Scotland, there are deposits of the type found in the Australian fields. Geophysicists have also become increasingly interested in Scotland because its rock structure is quite similar to that found in Donegal, in the Irish Republic, where Cambridge Mineral Resources is poised to begin drilling for diamonds next year.

"It is early days, but we are enthusiastic about what we have been finding," said David Bramhill, managing director of CMR, who declined to give the precise locations of the potential sites. "In Scotland, unlike in Ireland, there is no proper licensing system for prospecting so we have to be careful not to let others know where we are looking.

"In any case, I would not advise the ordinary public to turn up and start looking. You could trip over a rock containing a sapphire and you would not know what it was."

He said that landowners had so far been very cooperative and he expected that, if gemstones were discovered, royalties might be paid by the mining company at a rate of about 4.5 per cent, turning some Highland crofters into instant millionaires.

The next stage may be an electro-magnetic survey of certain areas.

Mr Bramhill, a veteran of North Sea oil exploration, warned against over- optimism, saying that it was too early to promise success. But he said the company was increasing its exploration budget from pounds 50,000 to pounds 300,000 because of the good results so far.

Dr Graham Smith, principal Scottish minerals geologist at the British Geological Survey, said the work the BGS had carried out for CMR had been encouraging. "I would take what they are doing quite seriously," he said.

Diamonds have never been found in quantity in Britain, although in 1813 what became known as the "Brookeborough Diamond" was discovered in a stream in Co Fermanagh. And in 1995 Britain's largest sapphire, at 9.6 carats worth about pounds 60,000, was discovered at Loch Roag, near Uig on Lewis.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy as ECB finally wield the axe
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas