Wednesday, September 22, 2010

World's 2nd Deepest Gold Mine May Reopen

From the Times of India:

KOLAR GOLD FIELDS: Declared sick and shut down in 2001, Kolar mines may glitter again.

Plans are afoot to revive the second deepest mine in the world (the first is in S Africa). After serving the nation for 121 years, Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) still has reserves that could yield 10 tonnes of gold per year for 15 years. With gold selling at a record Rs 19,000-plus per 10 grams, it would be a windfall.

Three parliamentary standing committees constituted in 1994, 1997 and 2000 to explore gold deposits in KGF have now submitted a report stating that at least 30 lakh tonnes of gold reserves lie unexploited. Last week, the Union cabinet had cleared the proposal to revive the mines which have been shut for nine years now.

"Gold reserves are also present in the tailing dumps (cyanide dumps). But the government has delayed implementation of the revival plan," said V Ananda Raj, former mines' manager, Bharat Gold Mines Limited (BGML).

Nearly a decade after closure, Karnataka HC directed the Centre to look into ways to revive the mines. Prior to this, the government had formed many committees. Former chief engineer of BGML and president of Kolar Gold Mines Employees', Supervisors' and Officers' United Forum K M Divakaran said: "Many committees constituted by the ministry of mines to explore gold reserves have submitted reports to the Centre stating gold reserves are aplenty."

The C P Gupta committee constituted in 2005 reported that 13.72 lakh tonnes of gold reserves were found in Chigargunta mine, which is 27km from KGF. The Old Bisnatham mine, 8km from south of KGF, has 0.065 million tonnes.

"When the Union government decided to close the mines, we had submitted a proposal to the Centre stating that we could extract 10 tonnes of gold every year for the next 15 years. Immediately after the mines were closed, the forum told the Centre that they could run the mines in collaboration with an Australian company and had even drawn up plans to employ 3,200 people. This was approved by the cabinet," former chief engineer of BGML and president of Kolar Gold Mines Employees' Supervisors' and Officers' United Forum K M Divakaran said.

Subsequently, responding to a petition by a section of the employees who approached the high court, the court directed the government to revive the mines itself rather than looking for international partners.

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