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New Mineral Explorations in Bundelkhand

Many efforts have been made to find new mineral reserves in Bundelkhand. Surveys conducted by the UP government's Directorate of Geology indicate more reserves of silica sand in Chitrakoot. Large rock phosphate reserves have been established in Lalitpur and new reserves of pyrophyllite-diaspore have been found in Lalitpur, Jhansi and Mahoba districts.

A large clay deposit has also been found in the Patha area of Chitrakoot district, near Tikaria railway station. Bauxite deposits valued at around Rs 200 crore have also been found in the Patha; the location falls in protected forest area.

The most promising find in UP Bundelkhand is platinum and gold deposits at Ikauna and Gerar villages in Lalitpur district. The content of the platinum group was estimated at 10.7 gm/t,  the highest so far reported in India. The platinum bearing rocks also contain silver, gold, chromium, nickel and cobalt.

In MP, after the government opened up mining exploration to the private sector in 2002, several Indian and multinational companies applied for reconnaissance permits to do exploration in the Bundelkhand districts.

The largest effort, done in 2002-06, was by the multinational mining giant, ACC Rio Tinto Exploration, which explored an area of around 10,000 sq km in Chhatarpur, Damoh, Tikamgarh, Panna and Sagar districts, for diamond, copper, lead, silver, gold, zinc, bismuth and cadmium deposits. The company applied for another permit in 2007, for exploration of an additional area of around 3000 sq km in Panna, Chhatarpur, Sagar and Damoh districts. The company reported finding promising diamond deposits in Panna, and applied for a mining lease in 2008.

The Uttar Pradesh government also launched a diamond exploration project in 2006, in association with global diamond major DeBeers; its most promising find was a 0.88 gm piece of diamond in one of the bore pits in the bed of a of an old channel of the Baghain river, near Kalinjar Fort in Banda district. In 2008, De Beers also applied for a permit to search for diamond and other precious stones in an area of around 1200 sq km in Panna and Satna districts.

It is too early to say whether any of the recent explorations will significantly impact Bundelkhand's economy. The UP Directorate of Geology reported that if explorations at Ikauna and Girar in Lalitpur district continue to be encouraging, the economy of the state will get a 'major boost' by the end of the 11th five-year-plan period. Ironically, the two villages were in the news in 2006 on account of drought and starvation.

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