Global majors aid India explore diamond, gold deposits

Monday, 28 October 2002, 08:00 Hrs
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PATNA: Global players are helping India to explore its diamond and gold deposits.

Seven out of 10 top diamond companies have taken reconnaissance permits in India and are scouring the states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, said Minister of State for Coal and Mines Ravi Shankar Prasad.

"Global majors like De Beers, Rio Tinto & BHP are exploring diamond and gold deposits in several pockets of India," Prasad said.

"This will help us identify the deposits and reduce huge imports of gold, gems and jewels," he said.

"Mining regimes have been decentralized, with substantial powers given to state governments to act within a timeframe," he said.

He said the mines ministry had implemented the policy of liberalization in right earnest, allowing foreign equity up to 100 percent for all minerals.

"We have given approval to 65 foreign investment projects worth 40 billion till date," he said.

The concept of reconnaissance permits in the mining sector was introduced to bring in state-of-the-art technology targeting minerals. About 114 reconnaissance permits have been granted in the last three years to cover an area of 148,000 km.

He, however, ruled out the possibility of disinvestments of Coal India Ltd., (CIL) saying it had made a record profit of 17.55 billion in the last financial year. CIL incurred a loss of 14.15 billion in 2000-2001.

Attributing the huge rise in CIL's profits to an increase in production and productivity, Prasad said the company had also reduced manpower from 586,896 in 1998-1999 to 519,922 in 2001-2002.

He said CIL had saved 5.94 million tones of coal worth 4.8 billion by launching a drive to verify the status of 7,015 core sector consumers.

The drive had brought down the number of valid "linked consumers" to 4,788. In Bihar, he said, out of the 354 linked consumers, 220 had been found bogus.

Prasad said during the 10th Five Year Plan, the center would sanction 98 projects costing 62 billion. The production capacity of coal companies will increase by 79 million tones once these projects become functional, he said.

The coal ministry had already sanctioned 19 projects worth 10.51 billion since 1999.

Source: IANS
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