UP's claim of unearthing 5 times India's gold reserves refuted by GSI

The euphoria over the claim that around 3,000 tonnes of gold reserves, worth Rs 12 trillion, have been discovered in Uttar Pradesh’s Sonbhadra district could not last even 24 hours, with the Geological Survey of India (GSI) clarifying on Saturday there had been no such discovery. 

The GSI, headquartered in Kolkata, rebutted the claims of the Uttar Pradesh Directorate of Geology and Mining (UPDGM), and said “miscommunication” must have led to the wrong reporting of facts. 

M Sridhar, director general of the GSI, said nobody in the agency gave any such data. He said 52,806 tonnes of gold ore was found in Sonbhadra district during the exploration work in 1998-2000. From this reserve, only 160 kg of gold can be extracted.

“There must have been some miscommunication of facts because of which the gold ore deposits have been overestimated. We have written a letter to Uttar Pradesh (UPDGM), stating the facts. The GSI has not estimated such kind of vast resource of gold deposits in Sonbhadra,” Sridhar said.

The UPDGM had said on Friday that gold deposits were found in Son Pahadi and Hardi areas of the district. Sridhar said while gold ore was found in the area during the GSI’s exploration work in 1998-2000, it had told the state government about the discovery in November last year. 

Under the new regulation, which came into effect from 2015, the GSI has to inform the state government when ore deposits are discovered. Earlier, no such action was mandatory. In its report, the GSI estimated that only 3.03 gm of gold can be extracted from a tonne of ore. It also clarified that even the extraction amount was tentative and could not be established for certain.

Moreover, Sridhar said the deposits were spread across only 0.5 sq km in forest land, which made the mining of ore economically unviable. “When there are several mines nearby, we can club it into a block and then it makes sense to mine the ore. But in this case, the deposits are too small to make it viable for any company to mine it,” he said. The GSI usually prioritises its exploration work based on the needs of the Centre. While strategic minerals like tin, cobalt, lithium, beryllium, germanium, gallium, indium, tantalum, niobium, selenium, and bismuth are atop the list in GSI exploration, gold is another commodity on its priority list.

According to the World Gold Council, India has reserves of 630 tonnes of gold.

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