Unidentified gemstones in South Africa that had compelled thousands of fortune seekers to travel to a remote village to mine the land with shovels and picks were found to be low-value quartz crystals and not diamonds, according to officials.
For a while, people from South Africa have been traveling to KwaHlathi village, in the nation’s eastern KwaZulu-Natal province, where residents had been mining since June 12 after a local herdsman unearthed the first stone in a field and spread the word.
Provincial Executive Council Member for tourism and economic development, Ravi Pillay, was quoted saying that he found some 3,000 during a site visit and the collected samples were later deemed as stones.
Pillay added that the tests conclusively revealed the stones to be quartz crystals, and not diamonds as some had anticipated. He further maintained that the price of quartz crystals is insignificant as compared to that of diamonds, and the value of the unearthed stones, if any, remains to be determined.
The event draws attention to the socio-economic challenges in the region, he continued. Like many areas in South Africa, high unemployment levels and poverty have left the local communities living hand to mouth.
People in the area have also complained specifically about inadequate water and road infrastructure during the visit, which officials at the briefing have assured they would address.
With the spread of the news, the number of people digging the land for diamonds has dwindled to less than 500, although substantial damage has already been done with 50 hectares of land being covered in pits of up to one meter, posing an imminent threat to cattle.
People that continue to mine in the area risk the spread of the Coronavirus and will be encouraged to leave. Sources confirmed that law enforcement will also be drawn upon if the situation persists.
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