'Sonakhan gold reserves could be in excess of 2,700 kgs'

| | Raipur
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'Sonakhan gold reserves could be in excess of 2,700 kgs'

Thursday, 17 March 2016 | Staff Reporter | Raipur

A goldmine which was auctioned by Chhattisgarh Government last month, could have gold reserves not less than 2,700 kgs, officials of Chhattisgarh’s Directorate of Geology and Mines said on Wednesday.

Vedanta, a unit of london-listed Vedanta Resources Plc, had beaten three other bidders in the auction of the Sonakhan block at Baghmara village in Baloda Bazar district of Chhattisgarh, which was India's first-ever auction of a gold mine. The gold mine is spread out in an area of 6.08 square kilometres.

The company after its successful bidding had been offered Prospecting cum Mining license by Chhattisgarh Government.

The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2015 (MMDR Amendment Act, 2015) has,besides Mining lease (Ml), two specific provisions for mineral exploration viz. Non-exclusive Reconnaissance Permit [NERP] and Prospecting license-cum-Mining lease [Pl-cum-Ml] through which private sector can participate in mineral exploration, officials stated.

Notably, Chhattisgarh is also among 19 states in the country where the Geological Survey of India (GSI) has proposed to take up extensive aerogeophysical survey to explore new mineral blocks.

In the first phase, it has been proposed that, reconnaissance aerogeophysical survey  will be completed with magnetometer and gravity sensors and in the second phase, high resolution airborne survey will be carried out over potential mineral zones identified from the reconnaissance survey.

A total of 8.13 lakh square kilometers of geological potential area in the country would be explored through outsourcing.

The potential area for aerogeophysical survey covers parts of the States of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, West Bengal, Meghalaya, Goa, Haryana, Sikkim and Assam. The data generated through aerogeophysical survey will be shared with the concerned States for taking up further exploration works.

The Central Government has established the National Mineral Exploration Trust (NMET) on August 14, 2015. The NMET has a Governing Body chaired by the Union Minister In-charge of Ministry of Mines and an Executive Committee chaired by Secretary, Ministry of Mines.

The primary objective of the NMET is to promote regional and detailed mineral exploration in the country to increase overall mineral production and achieve sustainable development of the mineral sector.

GSI will also be making an assessment of bauxite ore deposits existing in Damchun block of Balrampur district in Chhattisgarh.

Notably, Chhattisgarh accounted for 6.07 per cent of the total bauxite production in the country in 2013-14, as per the annual report of the Union Ministry of Mines.

Gujarat had the maximum 32.41 per cent share in bauxite production while Jharkhand had 10.53 percent share and Maharashtra had 9.51 per cent share.The remaining bauxite production was reported from Goa, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, it stated.

Incidentally, the total value of mineral production (excluding atomic and minor minerals) in the country during June 2015 was Rs18194  crore. The contribution of coal was the highest at Rs6662  crore (37%).

Next in the order of importance were-- petroleum (crude)  Rs5636  crore, iron ore Rs1847  crore, natural gas (utilized) Rs2164 crore, lignite Rs516  crore  and limestone Rs490 crore. These six minerals together contributed about 95% of the total value of mineral production in June 2015.

Production level of important minerals in June 2015  were: coal 465 lakh tonnes, lignite 39 lakh tonnes, natural gas (utilized) 2617  million cu.m., petroleum (crude) 31 lakh tonnes, bauxite 1524  thousand tonnes, chromite 220,00 tonnes, copper conc. 10,000 tonnes, gold 100 kg., iron ore 106 lakh tonnes, lead conc. 21,000 tonnes, manganese ore 173,000 tonnes, zinc conc. 130,000 tonnes, apatite and phosphorite 171,000 tonnes, limestone 249 lakh tonnes, magnesite 18,000  tonnes  and diamond  2678 carat.                                                                                                                                                                  The production of important minerals showing  positive growth during June 2015 over June 2014 include  ‘apatite & phosphorite’ (205.6%), ‘chromite’ (43.6%), ‘lead conc.’ (41.3%),  ‘zinc conc.’ (27.5%), ‘copper conc.’ (13.7%), ‘limestone’ (3.4%) and ‘coal’ (2.2%). The production of other important minerals showing negative growth are: ‘petroleum (crude)’ [(-) 0.8%], ‘iron ore’ [(-) 5.9%], ‘natural gas (utilized)’ [(-) 7.4%], ‘lignite’ [(-) 8.7%], ‘bauxite’ [(-) 10.0%], ‘manganese ore’ [(-) 13.8%], ‘magnesite’ [(-) 24.7%], ‘gold’ [(-) 27.5%] and ‘diamond’ [(-) 31.9%], officials stated.

Moreover, Chhattisgarh had 7.48 per cent share in total value of mineral production in the country during 2014-15, according to the annual report of the Union Ministry of Mines .

As per the report, Rajasthan had share of 11.49 per cent, Gujarat ( 8.85 per cent), Andhra Pradesh ( 8.25 per cent), Chhattisgarh ( 7.48 per cent) followed by Jharkhand ( 7.37 per cent), Odisha ( 6.38 per cent), Maharashtra ( 5.35 per cent), Madhya Pradesh ( 4.70 per cent), West Bengal ( 4.32 per cent), Assam  (4.04 per cent), Karnataka (2.96 per cent) and Uttar Pradesh ( 2.72 per cent).

The remaining States and Union Territories having individual share of less than 2.5 per cent all together accounted for remaining of total value of mineral production during the year under review, the report stated.

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