Ministry to exploit silica reserves in N-E

Written by Pranbihanga Borpuzari | New Delhi, Jul 20 | Updated: Jul 21 2008, 05:38am hrs
Two months after the ministry of mines (MoM) expressed its interest in the mineral resources of the northeastern region, the Geological Survey of India (GSI) has found significant reserves of silica sand in the Jiyajuli region between the districts of Nagaon and Karbi Anglong in Assam.

According to sources in the MoM, the deposits are very promising and the reserves are quite significant for mining.

Mineral Exploration Corporation Ltd (MECL) in May had done an exclusive mapping for the entire region and found significant mineral deposits in the area. The states include Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Meghalaya among others.

However, sources said the surveying done by GSI is far more comprehensive and the survey board will now carry out a detailed mapping to ascertain the true potential of the deposit.

Silica sand (industrial sand) is high-purity quartz sand deposited by natural processes. Depending on its chemical and physical characteristics, silica sand is used as glass sand, foundry sand, abrasives, fillers and hydraulic fracturing sand (also termed frac sand by the petroleum industry).

The deposits are in an area that is not insurgency prone, an issue that has stalled much of developmental and economic activities in the region. Sources added getting environmental and land clearances will not be an issue since the area is uninhabited.

Even the Kaziranga National Park is not within the proposed area and we see no hurdles in getting environmental clearances from the ministry of environment and forest, the source said.

The ministry is now keen to push the project through by next year in a public private partnership mode with the private player involved in the next round of exploration.

The GSI has been asked to come out with the final project details soon and the Assam government has already been updated on the proposed project, the source said.