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Companies queue up for mineral hunt in Bengal

Calcutta, June 21: Over 40 companies are keen on mining coal and other minerals in West Bengal.

While about 20 private companies have expressed interest in coal projects in seven blocks, including Bagrakote-Gorubathan in Darjeeling district, about 25 parties have shown interest in exploiting other minerals such as granite, rock phosphate, building stone, fire clay, quartz, limestone and dolomite deposits in Birbhum, Bankura and Purulia districts.

The West Bengal Mineral Development and Trading Corporation, a state-run company mandated to develop mineral resources in the state, is set to finalise joint ventures and lease deals with private and public sector companies soon.

Commercial explotaiton of these minerals could bring about a surfeit of business activity in these no-industry districts, said a top official of the commerce and industry department.

The total reserve of minerals that await commercial exploitation runs into several million tonnes with coal alone accounting for total 591 million tonnes in six blocks in the three south-Bengal districts and little less than ne million tonnes deposit in Bagrakote-Garubathan block in Darjeeling district.

Apart from coal, granite reserves in eight blocks in Bankura and Purulia districts have been estimated at 8.335 million cubic metres, rock phosphate 13.59 million tonnes, building stone 59.20 cubic metres, limestone 21.7 million tonnes, dolomite 1.5 million tonnes, fire clay 1.5 lakh tonnes and quartz 4.4 lakh tonnes.

Two separate committees formed to decide on the most suitable private and public sector companies for awarding contracts are likely to finalise the parties by the end of the month, according to Romit Mutsuddi, joint secretary in commerce and industries department of the state government.

Several central and state sector companies figured in the list of firms which have shown interest in commercial exploitation of minerals in the state.

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