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De Beers launches diamond seeking airship
Third wave of diamond exploration in SA commences
By: Mohana Ravindranath
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Sep 21 2005 12:00AM
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Reference: 30  

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THE launch of the De Beers Zeppelin Airship at Sir Seretse Khama Airport on Friday marked the commencement by De Beers Group of a third wave of diamond exploration in Southern Africa, using the most modern technology available, according to reports in Botwana Daily News. Speaking at the launch, Managing Director of Diamond Trading Company Gareth Penny said the first wave commenced in the 19th century when prospectors armed with primitive tools and knowledge of what they sought, led to the discovery of diamond mines in Kimberley in South Africa. The second wave commenced in Botswana in the mid 20th century leading to the discovery of diamond deposits at Orapa, Letlhakane and Jwaneng mines by De Beers geologists. As a third wave of diamond exploration and development commences in Southern and Central Africa, we bring together scientific and technological expertise from three great companies in an initiative that we believe holds great promise to assist in the future discoveries and development of new diamond deposits, the report said. Penny said the three companies that represent three continents in the scientific and technological expertise are the Zeppelin Airship Company of Germany which represents fresh and innovative thinking brought to a transport system developed at the beginning of the last century.

Bell GeoSpace of the United States of America brings sensitive, space age, geographysical technology from North America while De Beers Group represents Africa, providing the catalyst and opportunity for the exiting technologies, combined in a system to search for new diamonds deposits. Penny said De Beers chose Botswana as the first destination for the deployment of this unique technology because of its well-known stable political environment, as well as good governance and investor friendly legal infrastructure, according to the report.

The event was also used to publicise the Diamond for Development Campaign with the worlds largest and most visible airborne billboard. The public relations campaign has been running for a number of years in collaboration with the governments of Botswana, South Africa and Namibia. The director for explorations, Bill McKechinie said the airship is fitted with state of the art equipment used for airborne geo-physical survey, which has never been used for diamond exploration anywhere else in the world.

The airship will be in Botswana doing exploration in areas around Jwaneng and Orapa for eight months. The first Zeppelin Airship rose into the sky on July 2, 1900, and among those on board was the company founder, Graf Ferdinand von Zeppelin. Vice-President Seretse Khama Ian Khama and Minister of Mineral Energy and Water Affairs, Charles Tibone witnessed the launch, said the report.

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