Thousands of people flocked to a South African village digging for diamonds, only to find out they were quartz

·2 min read
KwaHlathi South Africa diamonds quartz
Thousands are seen digging for diamonds in KawHlathi village in South Africa last week. The stones found there have turned out to be only quartz. Phill Magakoe/AFP via Getty
  • Thousands rushed to a rural South African village last week to dig for diamonds.

  • But government officials said Sunday that the stones found at the site were actually quartz.

  • The value of quartz is extremely low, especially compared to diamonds, the officials said.

  • The quartz found near KwaHlathi village actually has little to no value, officials said.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

The hopes of thousands who rushed to a rural South African village last week in search of diamonds have been crushed, after government officials said Sunday that the stones were only quartz, which have little to no value.

According to Reuters, the diamond rush started when a herder found an unidentified stone in a field near the village of KwaHlathi, about 186 miles east of Johannesburg, and tipped off others.

Thousands of people traveled to the village to dig for stones themselves, prompting the government to send experts to take samples for testing, ABC Australia reported.

south africa diamond quartz
A boy holds an unidentified stone at KwaHlathi village, South Africa, on June 15, 2021. Phill Magakoe/AFP via GEtty

At a media briefing on Sunday, Ravi Pillay, provincial executive council member for economic development and tourism, said that the stones found there were only quartz.

"The tests conducted conclusively revealed that the stones discovered in the area are not diamonds as some had hoped," he said, according to Reuters.

"The value, if any, of the quartz crystals is yet to be established but it must be mentioned that the value of quartz crystals is very low compared to that of diamonds."

Quartz is second only to feldspar as one of the most abundant minerals on earth, according to the BBC.

Search for diamonds in south africa
A woman uses a pick axe to dig as others search for diamonds in rural South Africa on June 15, 2021. Phill Magakoe/AFP via Getty

Pillay said he counted some 3,000 diggers when he visited the site, and said the diamond rush highlighted some of the socio-economic challenges of the area.

The region the quartz was found in earlier this month is one of the poorest in South Africa, the BBC reported.

South Africa has been dealing with high levels of unemployment for years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened the country's economic situation.

The diggers remaining at the site have been asked to leave, since they are damaging the land and making it dangerous for cattle, according to Reuters.

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