Shefa Yamim, the company exploring for diamonds and other precious stones near Haifa based on a prophecy by the last Lubavitcher Rebbe, hasn’t found any treasure yet, but Wednesday the company said it had uncovered rare minerals.
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The names are unfamiliar except to geologists, but the company said a report based on samples and prepared by the geologist William Griffin of Australia’s Macquarie University described finding corundum stones that contained the mineral moissanite (a naturally occurring silicon carbide) and the even rarer tistarite.
Until now, [tistarite] has been found in a single meteorite that came from outer space. This has been the first find in nature of this mineral originating deep inside the earth, the company stated.
Shefa Yamim said it couldn’t asses the value of the finds, but added that they should raise the commercial value of its permit area along the banks of the Kishon River.
Despite the absence of a bottom line on the finding, Shefa Yamim shares rose 6.5% Thursday on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in unusually heavy trading for the thinly traded stock, to end the day at 1.09 shekels (27 cents), lifting the company's market cap to 46 million shekels.
'In the valley are precious stones'
Shefa Yamim has an unusual history. The company was founded by CEO Abraham Taub, an ultra-Orthodox Jew who was close to the last leader of the Chabad Lubavitch Hasidic movement, Rebbe Menachem M. Schneerson.
Taub has devoted himself to interpreting remarks made by the rabbi before he died in 1994. Schneerson is quoted on the company’s website as having told Taub: “The uniqueness of Haifa is that it has a sea, and it has a valley — and in the valley are precious stones and gems.”
Until now, the precious stones proved elusive. Founded in 1999, since Shefa Yamim went public on the TASE, its shares have lost 85% of their value, despite periodic announcements about small but potentially significant findings. Last month, for instance, it said a 400-ton soil sample suggested the Kishon had potential for gemstone findings.
The company said Wednesday it would be petitioning the International Mineralogical Association to recognize the titanium, aluminum and zirconium compound as a new mineral, to be called ShefaTAZite.
It also said that based on Griffin’s advice it would begin using the term Carmel sapphire for the titanium-rich corundum found.