YMDC CEO Roger Youssef told Mining Weekly in August that the company identified a diamond-bearing kimberlite pipe 2.5 ha in size, as well as five dikes 10 m wide and 50 m to 100 m long, in Camp Alpha in north-western Liberia.
“The area has been worked irregularly by local, small-scale alluvial miners for the past 75 years, and it has been explored by numerous mining firms, but the diamond source has never been discovered,” Youssef added.
Work done this year led to the discovery of two new kimberlite pipelines based on the exotic botanical indicator Pandanus candelabrum, according to Haggerty.
The pipelines are small (50 m x 15 m), but both exhibit positive kimberlitic indicator minerals, according to him.
Following sophisticated spaceborne thermal emission and reflection radiometer (Aster) satellite pictures, another five probable pipes were identified, one of which was similar in signature but significantly larger than the pipe at Camp Alpha, according to Haggerty.
In addition, transported ilmenite with unique chemical compositions indicated the presence of another kimberlite cluster to the north of the Camp Alpha discovery, he said.
The Camp Alpha kimberlite cluster, according to Youssef and Haggerty, is one of many in the 500-square-kilometer tenement.
They expressed confidence that many mines might be developed in the primary kimberlite, citing a lengthy history of alluvial diamond recovery in the range of 50 ct to 450 ct.
The huge diamonds appear to be Type II diamonds, similar to those found in neighboring Sierra Leone and mined in Botswana's Karowe and Lesotho's Leteng. All of the pipes are tiny in diameter and geologically similar in age.
Mechanized alluvial mining is also proposed in the Gbeya river, which runs through the YDMC land.
These will be Liberia's first large-scale diamond mining operations, with significant economic benefits to the government and the Liberian people, according to Haggerty and Youssef.
However, they acknowledged that working in the region had not been without its difficulties, citing thick bush, badly maintained laterite roads and wood bridges, porous borders, smuggling, illegal mining, and globally recognized corruption as major obstacles.
Furthermore, financial assistance was limited during the last Ebola crisis and the current Covid-19 outbreak, but Youssef and Haggerty are sure that Liberian diamonds have a bright future in the worldwide market thanks to advanced discoveries.
“With mine closures and no new discoveries in the last decade, it's feasible that West Africa may revert to 1970s production levels, when it produced 10% of the world's diamonds exclusively through small-scale artisanal alluvial mining,” they said.
With the start of the monsoon season, YMDC announced its field efforts ended at the end of July, but laboratory tests and analysis would continue at Florida International University in Miami, under the guidance of Haggerty.
Although diamonds are YMDC's primary focus in the region, the business is also interested in and licensed to explore for gold, base metals, and coltan.