Scottish Highlands set for Britain's first diamond rush
Saturday 27 November 1999
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.
Justin Bieber was one of the hardest hit
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...
£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...
£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...