A Different Story : No takers for minerals in Assam

The Assam government failed to receive any expression of interest against its notification for mineral exploration plans in the North Cachar Hills. The Mineral Exploration Corporation Ltd (MECL) had recently mapped the mineral resources available in the troubled districts of NC Hills and Karbi Anglong. In all probability the volatile situation, particularly in the NC Hills, was holding back entrepreneurs from venturing into exploration and mining activities in the two districts. Militants have caused extensive harm to the East-West corridor and gauge conversion projects in the NC Hills, apart from disrupting work at the cement plants and Neepco.

The recent exclusive mapping of the region by the MECL showed large deposits of various types of minerals in the districts, but the government was worried that the deposit could not be tapped if the two backward districts remained militancy-ridden. Between the two districts, Karbi Anglong has been relatively peaceful for some time now. The mineral blocks found in the districts are of coal, cement-grade limestone, kaolin (China clay) and granite. Several limestone blocks, each with an estimated reserve ranging between 57 and 63 million tonnes, were found in the NC Hills. Many coal blocks with an estimated reserve ranging from 0.20 to 1.60 tonnes were found in both hill districts. One kaolin block with an estimated reserve of 0.74 million tonnes has been found in Karbi Anglong, which also has several granite blocks with an estimated reserve ranging from 2 to 30 million cubic metres.

The state government received a very lacklustre response in its bid to find interested parties for a joint venture with the Assam Mineral Development Corporation to take up exploration, exploitation of the mineral deposits and set up mineral-based industries. Despite the potential in the two districts at present the situation in the districts was not conducive to any mining activity.

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