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Let the Diamond test drilling continue.

Let The Diamond Test Drilling Continue

Now that test drilling at the Crater of Diamonds State Park is under way, it would be ludicrous for U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright to halt the drilling until an adequate testing of the site is accomplished.

In her June 27 decision allowing the testing exploration to proceed, Wright intimated she would halt drilling on July 30 after she hears final briefs in the case. Federal law prohibits commercial operations on park land and Wright appears ready to toe the federal line and rule against the commercial drilling interests.

But if Wright cuts short the testing at the end of the month the absurb logic of having partial test results will make Alice-In-Wonderland's travails a testament to reason. Consider that Wright's decision to allow the drilling was a conscious one, but the scheduling of the July 30 hearing of final briefs was arrived at through legal wrangling between attorneys. To stick to it as if it were an immovable deadline is absurd.

The original drilling schedule called for 30 holes to be explored over a 10 to 12 week period. Hoping to beat Wright's deadline, last week test drillers added another crew to speed up the drilling process. Even with the additional crews, only five to six holes will probably be completed by the end of the month.

It is crucial that a full drilling schedule be completed so an intelligent answer can be reached on the future of the park. No one knows the extent of the diamonds in the pipeshaped formation and speculation as to the size of the find ranges from less than $100 million to over $2 billion.

What is certain is the park's diamond bearing pipe is the world's sixth-largest and the quality of its diamonds are first-rate. Combined with the current bull market in diamonds - $31 billion in diamonds were sold in 1987 - the possibility exists the park can generate millions of dollars in state revenues and bring hundreds of jobs to the area for years to come.

Diamond mining efficiency has increased as much as 50 percent since the mine was sold to the state from commercial mining interest for $750,000 nearly 20 years ago. Today, with diamond prices booming and mining costs down, the Prairie Creek site is potentially one of the most productive in the world. But the full value of the field will never be known until adequate drilling is completed.
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Title Annotation:Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:editorial
Date:Jul 16, 1990
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