Bhubaneswar, Feb. 23: After the scurry for steel and aluminium, it could well be time for a gold rush in Orissa.
While Posco, Arcelor-Mital, Sterlite and Tata Steel have lined up for a stake in the bauxite and iron ore reserves of Orissa, a Jharkhand-based mining company has received the Centres nod for prospecting gold in the state.
Rungta Mines Ltd, a part of the SR Rungta group, which has been in the mining business for the six decades, is expected to get the state governments nod for gold and diamond exploration soon.
S.N. Sarangi, additional secretary in the steel and mines department, today told The Telegraph that his department received the Centres approval last week to grant reconnaissance permit to Rungta Mines for undertaking exploration of gold and diamond deposits.
So far, reconnaissance permits have been granted to 14 mining companies for exploration of precious minerals like gold, diamond, copper, lead and nickel, said mines director R.N. Sahoo. Prominent among the companies are De Beers and BHP Billiton.
Under the existing rules, the Centres approval is needed for grant of the permit by a state government.
According to official sources, Rungta Mines is likely to be allowed to carry out exploration of gold and diamond deposits over 2,824 sq km in mineral-rich Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj districts.
During the exploration exercise, aerial, geo-physical and geo-chemical surveys are likely to be undertaken.
Managing director of the company L.N. Rungta said: The state government had forwarded our application to the Centre and recommended grant of reconnaissance permit. We would start the exploration work as soon as we receive the order.
The senior official said they would undertake airborne surveys and other studies during the exploration period, which is likely to last three years.
A recent survey conducted by the state directorate of geology suggested that traces of gold have been found in Telkoi, Saleikana, Siriabahal, Dubulapal, Gopur, Gajipur, Odal, Taramakenta, Kalima, Kadangi and Samakuda areas of Keonjhar district, Suruda, Jashipur, Suriaguda, Kadeikucha and Gorumahisani in Mayurbhanj and Govindpalli area of Koraput.
Similarly, diamond deposits were found in Kalahandi, Nuapara and Keonjhar districts of Orissa.
A survey, conducted by Geological Survey of India in Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Nowrangpur, also revealed traces of gold.