NEW DELHI – India is seeking the participation of Rio Tinto and Anglo American’s De Beers to explore for diamonds and gold, part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambition to make the country a major mineral producer, the mines secretary said.
Balvinder Kumar told Reuters on Monday that the Indian government will start to auction the rights to up to 70 diamond and gold exploration zones to mining companies this year.
India stopped producing diamonds years ago and produces only a small amount of gold, although it is the world’s second-biggest consumer of the yellow metal. Modi wants to revive the sector, with most of the exploration and production conducted by the private sector. The blocks that will go on sale are among 100 mineral zones identified by the state-run Geological Survey of India following an aerogeophysical assessment.
“We need resources to expand our mineral wealth and that’s why we want private companies to carry out exploration of deep-seated minerals,” Kumar said in an interview. “So far we haven’t been able to do detailed exploration, but this proposal is a win-win for all.”
However, he said diamond producer De Beers and Rio Tinto, which has already discovered a cluster of eight “diamondiferous pipes” in central India, have been cold to the latest exploration idea, citing high risks of failure.
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