Not just diamonds – Jequitinhonha river gold


Gold dust from diamond-bearing gravels in the Jequitinhonha river (MG - Brazil)

Gold dust from diamond-bearing gravels in the Jequitinhonha river (MG – Brazil)

The old Tejuco settlement in Minas Gerais of the then Portuguese colony of Brazil was the birthplace of the modern diamond industry in the first quarter of the XVIII century. Until then diamonds originated in India and other minor localities in the East. After that, predominance in the diamond production changed into the South Atlantic (Brazil, Venezuela and elsewhere in South America, South Africa, Namibia, Angola, RDC, Botswana, Zimbabwe and elsewhere in west, southern and central Africa); the Indian Ocean no longer ruled diamond mining.

Diamonds are still produced in old Tejuco (now, appropriately) Diamantina region (I love the area and the country; you will see plenty of it in my posts). The Jequitinhonha river drains the region, its tributaries collecting diamonds released from the Sopa Brumadinho Formation (Espinhaço Supergroup) precambrian conglomerates in the Southern Espinhaço Range (article from a Mario Chaves and Italo Filho, here). The diamonds collected by the Jequitinhonha river are deposited along its margins (in terraces and alluvial plains) and in the bottom of the river.

The river has seen intense diamond mining activity since the XVIII century until our days (with Brazil Minerals’ Duas Barras project – to know more about this project, their webpage is here and you can get a copy of their 2007 NI43101 here). Perhaps the most active was the Tejucana project, (that saw its heyday during the period in which Sibeka from Belgium was the company’s main shareholder, until the early 90’s). Tejucana dredged diamonds and gold from the river bottom; in certain stretches gold production represented a major contribution to the total revenue.

The picture was taken a few years ago during one of my trips to the region. Usually I focus my camera on diamonds from the area (photo galleries).

But not just diamonds – the Jequitinhonha river also contains gold.

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