Madhya Pradesh’s Bundelkhand region may soon become home to one of the world’s largest diamond mines.
Global mining firm Rio Tinto is expected to invest Rs 2,200 crore in a diamond exploration project in Chhatarpur district, 400 km northeast of Bhopal.
The Rio Tinto-owned Argyle diamond mine in Australia is the world’s biggest diamond producer, averaging an annual production of 35 million carats (7,000 kg) of diamond.
Chhatarpur’s Bunder field has about 37 million tonne of diamond reserves.
The process of approval for providing an exploratory licence to Rio Tinto is in its final stages with the Union ministry of mines. The site of the proposed project is near the state-owned National Mineral Development Corporation’s Panna diamond mine.
“We have already completed the necessary formalities on our part and sent the proposal to the Union ministries of mines and environment for requisite clearances,” S K Mishra, secretary of MP’s department of mining told HT.
“This would certainly open an era of development in Bundelkhand.”
The MP government has given its approval to the project.
“The Centre may clear it in 10-15 days,” a senior official in the ministry said.
The mining lease would be Rio Tinto’s first for diamond mining in India, after being in the country for nearly a decade.
Rio Tinto will also need clearance from the environment and forest ministry.
Rio Tinto and other companies, multinational and Indian, were given a reconnaissance permit (granted for preliminary search for mineral deposits) in 2002 by the Centre. Later, prospecting licences (granted for undertaking operations for exploring, locating or proving mineral deposits) were issued to them.