Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand to auction gold mines by next month

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New Delhi, Feb 17: The government expects private sector's participation in the auction of two gold mines by Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, even as there have been few takers for limestone blocks.

Besides, the government will soon start production from the Bharat Gold Mines Ltd (BGML), earlier called Kolar Gold Mines, a PSU under the Mines Ministry which ran into heavy losses and was shut down in March 2001.

Gold mines to be auctioned

As of January 15, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh have put one gold mine each under the hammer. "Chhattisgarh will also auction a gold mine in the first week of March. Jharkhand too has one," Mines Secretary Balvinder Kumar told reporters here.

As for Kolar gold mines, the government is trying to start mining at the block. After closure, the government through a 2006 cabinet decision, prescribed the global tender route to ascertain the value of its assets. Kolar gold fields were once considered one of the largest gold fields in India and mining here used to happen for centuries. It was nationalised in 1956 and in 1972, its operations were handed over to BGML.

The fate of the matter, however, has remained hanging owing to a protracted legal wrangle between stakeholders with conflicting interests. Situated between Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, BGML operated 4 mining leases before its closure.

The biggest gold reserve of BGML, Kolar Gold Field (KGF), lies in Karnataka. According to estimates, even after 120 years of mining, the value of this mines runs into a couple of thousand crore, a senior government official said.

Even as the government is trying to revive gold mining in the country, its efforts for other mines is not bearing the desired fruits. The mines auction in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan has failed to find many interested parties, forcing the state governments to talk to the industry and working on re-auctioning the blocks.

As of January 15, Gujarat has put 5 limestone blocks for auction, followed by Maharashtra which has offered a block each of limestone, tungsten, iron ore and bauxite. "Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra are not getting adequate responses for the auction. Now, the state governments are talking to the industry on how to do it again," Kumar said.

PTI 

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