Indiana James and the Legend of Diamond Lakes

Diamond Lakes

7 October 2021

James Campbell is somewhat of a celebrity in the world of geology, geophysics and diamonds. In Southern Africa, he is a legend in the diamond exploration and diamond mine development world. He is a graduate of the illustrious Imperial College in London with a degree in Mining Exploration and Geology. He did his honours project on what was to become the Venetia Mine while it was still an exploration project. This laid the foundation for him to go to work at DeBeers after his graduation.

Post university he was schooled in the big leagues within DeBeers, where he began a career which has been regularly punctuated by massive achievements. He worked at DeBeers for 21 years and rose to the position of General Manager in charge of Advanced Exploration and DeBeers Laboratories around the World. During his stint at DeBeers, he even worked as Nikki Oppenheimer’s personal assistant for several years.

He eventually launched into a career outside of DeBeers and successfully ran several prominent diamond junior companies, starting with African Diamonds and the development of the Karowe mine. African Diamonds was a joint venture with DeBeers on the then AK6 project which became the Karowe Mine. African Diamonds took the project all the way through to a bankable feasibility study. There were some interesting times with DeBeers, and the project was eventually bought out by Lucarra Diamond Corporation. Initial shareholders in the project received about a 25 fold return!
Listen to Interview with James Campbell

He also ran a project called West Africa Diamonds which operated in Sierra Leone and Guinea. He engineered a reverse takeover of Stella Diamonds with the project now having been acquired by Newfield resources, an Australian listed company.

He spent 5 years at Rockwell Diamonds as their Chief Executive Officer where he built several different diamond operations. He boasted the lowest unit cost diamond mining in the Public Company space for some projects. Following that, he now leads Botswana Diamonds which has got projects in Botswana and South Africa.

His work in diamond mine development within a Southern African context is not only the stuff of Legends, he lives it as well. “Indiana James” is an apt nickname when you see him on the trail. Kitted out to handle the harsh Kalahari climate exploring in 45 degree plus heat. Dusty, wide brimmed, Explorers Hat sat atop a grin that shouts out – “ I love my job’. Indie conjures up the image of a toughened, street wise, bush-bashing explorer that thrives in remote, uncharted often hostile territory in search of great treasures.

He is as comfortable in hiking gear exploring rock formations in what most would say is not just inhospitable but inhumane and murderous conditions, as he is in an air-conditioned Boardroom making diamond deals in the most prestigious of global destinations. His achievements and global status within the ranks of junior diamond miners has not been easily achieved. He has put in many decades of dedicated sacrifice, service, work and sweat, to now be a global influencer in the diamond exploration and mining development industry. With his strong following of academics and students, he is always keen to emphasize just how important field work is in addition to a solid academic foundation. I will go so far as to say that reading between the lines when James talks about his many achievements in the diamond mining industry, he clearly iterates that anyone wanting to make any kind of impact in the exploration geology field requires at least 10 years of active field work and half-a-lifetime of dedication.

Botswana diamonds has dominated the news in the Southern African diamond circles for the better part of the last three years. That trend is set to continue. They have projects in South Africa and Botswana. Botswana Diamonds key foundational projects include:
a) The Thorny River Project, which is a high yield, defined kimberlite resource.
b) KX36 is a 3.5 hectare kimberlite pipe, discovered by Sekaka, in the Kalahari. The kimberlite is situated approximately 70 km from Gem Diamonds’ Ghaghoo Mine, and 260 km north-west of Botswana’s capital Gaborone. Botswana Diamonds have been strategically negotiating around this project for some time now.
c) The company has been exploring in the Kalahari region of Botswana both under its own wholly owned subsidiary Sunland Minerals and in joint venture with BCL in Maibwe Diamonds. It will also commence work on its newly acquired Sekaka licenses next year which are also in the Kalahari.
d) BOD became operators of Sunland Minerals in 2018.
e) Maibwe Diamonds holds PLs in the Kalahari. Maibwe is a three-way JV between Botswana state-owned copper-nickel producer BCL, Future Minerals and Siseko Minerals (51% owned by BOD). Under the original JV agreement, BCL was the operator and had to complete and fund an agreed work programme, whereas JV partners Future and Siseko have a free carry up to the Bankable Feasibility Study stage. The project came to an abrupt halt due to BCL’s inability to finance the agreed work programme as result of its being placed into liquidation. The complex nature of BCL has resulted in an impasse over the liquidation process. The original liquidator has been replaced and there is now greater impetus to find a commercial solution to moving forward with Maibwe following a corporate impasse going back four years.
f) The Mooikloof kimberlite is a 2.5 hectare pipe discovered in 1986. It is part of the Marnitz kimberlite cluster which also hosts the now worked out The Oaks mine which was established in 1998. The Marnitz kimberlite cluster is intruded into the Limpopo Mobile Belt which also hosts the nearby Venetia Mine as well as several other kimberlites in South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. The Oaks, which was a 1 hectare kimberlite pipe, produced 1.4M carats at a grade of 53 cpht and diamond value of $156/ct at a BCOS of +1.2mm. Mooikloof was targeted by Vutomi as the last known (unpublished) work was done some 30 years ago, and this indicated positive diamond results. The legal challenge to the Company’s executed and registered Prospecting Right over Mooikloof by a group of businessmen is continuing. The Company has fully complied with and responded to requests for information by the South African DMR regulator and awaits the final verdict to the DMR’s review process.
g) De Beers discovered six diamondiferous kimberlite pipes and a number of dykes and fissures at Palmietgat which is approximately one hours’ drive, north of Johannesburg. Initial prospecting work started in 1977 followed by an extensive percussion drilling and diamond drilling, trenching and sinking of shafts between 1978 and 1981. This was followed by a further program of large diameter drilling in 1994. The three main pipes (K14, K15 and K16) are intensely weathered and altered down to a depth of approximately 30 meters. Some of the kimberlites were mined by Trivalence Mining Corporation Inc for a brief period until they changed strategy to focus on oil. The results of their mining at Palmietgat were influenced by what appear to be significant metallurgical issues. The company is currently working through the available literature to determine a work plan.
h) BOD has signed an MoU with Vast Resources plc, an AIM listed exploration company. In terms of the MoU, the two companies would be exchanging past exploration information and forming a special purpose vehicle (‘SPV’) to jointly develop the diamond potential of Zimbabwe. The initial focus of this understanding is on the Marange Diamond Fields (‘MDF’) of eastern Zimbabwe.

James has engineered another four big projects since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, in addition to cultivating the already impressive portfolio of diamond assets under his Botswana Diamonds stewardship. In addition to his regular day job, James through Botswana Diamonds, has in the last 22 months:
a) Acquired Petra Diamond’s assets in Botswana through Sekaka Diamonds
b) Did a joint venture with private Botswana company Dimextra who are aligned with Australian listed Burgundy Diamond Mining
c) Entered a joint venture with VAST Resources to acquire the Ghagoo Diamond mine in the central Kalahari,
d) And just a few days ago they announced a buy-out of minority shareholders in Vutomi which is Botswana Diamonds South African company.

James has been involved in the field for 36 years this month. He still has “plenty of gas in the tank” and “plenty of energy and plenty of ideas”. His secret is to love what he does, alongside his focus which is to deliver shareholder value for Botswana Diamonds. Under his stewardship, Botswana Diamonds has raised capital 2-3 times every two years. Since they are principally an exploration company, this type of capital raising has been necessary. James has in the interim cultivated several world class diamond resources as Botswana Diamonds with the last two years being an additional smorgasbord of opportunities. While much of the rest of the mining world has been strangled during the pandemic, Indiana James has been out expanding horizons and Botswana Diamond’ s assets and equity value. From one spectacular world class high yield Kimberlite development in it’s Thorny River project, to the acquisition of the Gaghoo Mine. Successfully tackling projects in 3 different countries in an industry which has recently, and for a long time, taken a beating is testimony to the prowess, foresight, fortitude and resilience of Campbell.

It is with this impressive prologue that I want to showcase the project that I am involved in called Diamond Lakes. James Campbell has agreed to come on-board the project as a technical advisor. This is an alluvial deposit with some peculiar geology. Specific areas on the site have been extensively mined in the 1920’s to 1949. Historical mining created the massive excavation called Pienaar’s Pothole and recovered a phenomenal amount of diamonds. The mine is 99 hectares and has a New Order Mine Right valid until 2044. It has several distinctly different diamondiferous deposits presumed to have been moved by glaciers and/or fluvial river systems that flow over the site. There is a solid bedrock of subterranean dolomite covering much of the mine’s area that has eroded and collapsed in some areas leaving several “pothole structures” that sit directly in the path of the diamondiferous gravel runs. These have acted as gravity sink traps for heavy diamond material and led historically to unimaginable amounts of diamonds recovered from some of these potholes. The only potholes that rival Pienaar’s Pothole historically, for the most amount of diamonds recorded to have been recovered from a pothole structure, are the Kings and Malan's potholes nearby.

Diamond Lakes has 5 pothole structures that have drilled and proven diamondiferous reserves. In addition there are large areas of superficial surface diamondiferous gravels that were never touched in years gone by. In 2018 there was a large bulk sample done which recovered some 3500cts. So, a really interesting fact is the following; the diamond run upon which diamond lakes sits is an alluvial diamond run. It has been known for almost a hundred years. It has yielded enormous amounts of diamonds mostly 70 to 90 years ago. There are still vast untouched insitu virgin gravels over the site and under the current NOMR. And as yet, the Kimberlitic source for this, what was once known as the world's richest alluvial diamond run, has not as yet been identified. What better person than “Indiana James” to advise on this project.

Diamond Lakes and the Bloodless Diamonds Group are currently capital raising. The plan is to start with the processing of easily accessible surface gravels and old tailings which have demonstrated good yields in 2018. The proceeds from diamond sales will immediately finance the commencement of a bankable document or competent person’s report, with a comprehensive surveying and drilling program of each pothole structure and the exploration to possibly find Kimberlite on Diamond Lakes. DL’s history has been intriguing enough to have gotten Indiana James interested and willing to invest some of his time on the project. True to expectations, when Campbell did his first site visit to Diamond Lakes, he was in the pits and trenches, reading the gravel runs. All the on-site mine manager could say was – “Eish, this guy knows his stuff”.

Having Campbell as a technical advisor and mentor come onboard the Diamond Lakes project, has been nothing short of finding the absolutely perfect fit. Although Diamond Lakes as an alluvial deposit is profound enough, if a Kimberlite Blow were to be identified on the site, this would multiply the value of the site several fold and be in the arena of Campbell to map and drill the resource. It is expected that diamond recoveries will be sufficient early on for Botswana Diamonds to consider a joint venture agreement or management agreement to oversee the entire mine and all operations going into the future.

As part of Diamond Lakes corporate social responsibility there will be an ongoing investment in the following projects which will be tied to the mine’s income generation:
1) Rural Education Fund
2) Social Development Fund
3) Bloodless Diamonds Women In Mining Project

Diamond Lakes starts October 2021 with the launch of it’s Capital Raise. Not only are we hoping to provide excellent shareholder revenues, but also considerable growth in equity while funding empowerment programs. Please go to our website to send an expression of interest if you would like to be a part of the Diamond Lakes story. Diamond Lakes as a mine is open to consider reasonable offers of joint venture contractor agreements, or equity offers. is the website of Botswana Diamonds. All of their projects are impressively showcased. The multitude of high value projects across 3 countries is an attractive option for any diamond mining enthusiasts especially from Australia and Asia. The company is listed on the London Stock Exchange and James is usually open to any sensible corporate offers. Botswana Diamonds have several unique

by Navin Naidoo, MD DIAMOND LAKES


Don’t sacrifice your field time at the start of your career!!!
Age is no limitation to field geology. Fitness and good health are!
Exploration and mining is a long term business

A solid academic foundation is extremely useful.
Technical skills are indispensable
Corporate Social Responsibility in mining trumps profits