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Sat survey confirms untapped sapphire trove in J&K

Srinagar, India: The National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) Hyderabad, India, conducted satellite survey of Kishtwar district, confirmed untapped sapphire reserves in the area. Situated at an altitude of over 4500 meters above sea level, the Padder mines are estimated to contain Sapphire deposits worth hundreds of crores of rupees. The Jammu & Kashmir government’s lack of planning coupled with unfavourable geographical conditions is preventing large scale exploitation of the prized mineral.

Managing Director, JK Minerals Ltd (JKML), VC Sharma said that the JKML sends a team annually to Padder for carrying out small scale mining activity. In absence of modern technology and facilities, the team mostly relies on hit-n-trial method for extraction of raw sapphire known as corundum. The process was started in 1998 after a court verdict.

Officials said the first auction fetched JKML INR 1.32 crore against 11.5 kgs of corundum in 2008. Last year JKML carried two auctions of corundum earning more than INR 80 lakh.

“Due to difficult geography and high-altitude the mining activity takes place only during two months in a year,” said Sharma.

Lack of resources and modern infrastructure with the JKML has paralyzed it to carry out extraction on scientific lines. “If Sapphire extraction is carried out on scientific lines it can not only be shaped as billion dollar industry but it can take care of major part of the state budget,” said an expert, well versed with the issue.

Source: Greater Kashmir