Botswana Diamonds plans to start the first phase of its joint venture with Alrosa in January 2014 when four Russian geologists commence fieldwork on the PL117 licence area in Orapa.

The objective of the fieldwork is to refine drill targets, which will be followed by a drilling programme in March/April 2014.

Botswana Diamonds chairman John Teeling said there are high expectations for the work but it is "grassroots exploration".

The company said that even though PL117 contains the top-ranking targets, a series of other targets were also lined up to follow, including areas where deep sand cover had meant that no kimberlites had ever been discovered.

Teeling said Alrosa believes that its exploration techniques can predict the location of diamondifereous kimberlites up to 100m below a cover of Kalahari sand and basalt.

"The first test of this will be in Q1 and Q2 2014, when the joint venture will explore PL117, a 2.9km² licence in Orapa, very close to the new Karowe mine, which is producing spectacular diamonds," Teeling added.

Alrosa also undertook an analysis of the Gope area in Botswana, which is in the Kalahari Game Reserve.

The Ghagoo mine is anticipated to come on stream in late 2014, while a discovery has been made on KX36 in the east of the area.

South African and local interests had obtained a substantial block of 13 licences covering much of the area.

Botswana Diamonds has a joint venture with the licence holders whereby it can earn a 51% stake in the block by investing $940,000.

"Our geologists, with the assistance of Alrosa, have identified a series of targets which, finance permitting, we will explore in 2014," Teeling said.

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