The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Virgin mines to ease ore tangle

Ranchi, May 17: Little known till the other day, Ghatkuri mines could bail the Jharkhand government out of the stalemate over providing mining lease to investors and bring the industrialisation process back on track.

Situated about 16 km north of Chiriya mines in mineral rich West Singhbhum district, the state geology department explored the virgin mine for last six months. And the findings were inspiring. The Fe (iron ore) content of the mineral in the mines is 62 per cent, just one per cent less than that in Chiriya mines. Its iron reserves are more than 600 million tonnes — a quantity that companies like Arcelor-Mittal had been looking for its proposed steel plant.

The reserves could be higher than our initial findings, said geologist Arun Kumar, associated with the exploration. The geology department has sought the forest department’s permission to carry out drilling work — an exercise that would enable it to ascertain the exact quantity of iron ore reserves in the mines.

Divided into four blocks —Ruam, Lutuburu, Pansiburu and Rajabera — the Ghatkuri mine is located at Ghatkuri reserve forest. Sprawling over about 60 sq km, its mineral deposit is spread over 32 sq km.

Little was known about Ghatkuri till last year when the state government erroneously recommended mining leases to few private companies there unaware that the Union government had reserved that area for PSUs way back in ’60s. Before the Centre could act, the state government hurriedly withdrew the recommendations.

The private firms moved the Jharkhand High Court against the government’s decision thereafter, but the court gave its verdict favouring the state government.

The government initiated a move to find out the quantity and quality of iron ore reserves of Ghatkuri mine at this juncture. The mines department is already enthused by the findings at Ghatkuri, as they have given a feedback.

Although the government cannot give leases directly to investors at Ghatkuri, it can allot mining lease to Jharkhand State Mineral Development Corporation (JSMDC) — a PSU of the state government. JSMDC and private investors can enter into joint ventures for mining at Ghatkuri.

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