(Bloomberg) – The South African Department of Natural Resources and Energy ordered people searching for diamonds near the town of Ladysmith to disperse as it began investigating the validity of claims on social media.
The site of the alleged diamond find is about 360 kilometers (224 miles) southeast of Johannesburg. “There are pictures and videos circulating on social media in which some people involved in illegal mining celebrate and believe they have gotten rich,” said the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government in a separate post on Twitter.
The diamond race shows the desperation of the people struggling for income in an economy hit hard by the pandemic. The unemployment rate in Africa’s most industrialized country rose to a record 32.6% in the first quarter. Meanwhile, diamond prices have risen year-round, with De Beers increasing its prices at almost all auctions this year.
The minerals department “is sending a task team of geology and mining experts to the area to determine the truth of the stories and conduct a proper inspection of the site and discoveries made in the area,” it said in a statement Monday. The department and the province called for “calm and patience” while the task force carried out preliminary investigations.
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