Vedanta wins India's first gold mine auction

Vedanta Private Limited is reported to have won the country's first ever gold mine auction conducted by the Chhattisgarh government on Friday, quoting the highest bid of 12.55 per cent of the Rs74,712 per troy ounce (1 troy ounce = 31.10 gram) price set by the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM), beating three other bidders.

The auction the Baghmara gold mine at Sonakhan in Balodabazaar-Bhatapara district of Chhattisgarh took on 26 February took 13 hours from 11am to 11.47 pm when the final bid was accepted.

The successful bid for the mine will entitle Vedanta for a composite licence, for prospecting licence-cum-mining lease rights under the new amended Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act 2015.

The Baghmara mine is spread over an area of 608 hectares in a densely forested pocket of the Balodabazar-Bhatapara district - about 130 km northeast of Raipur. The mine, with an estimated reserve of 2,700 kg of gold, is expected to earn more than Rs81.40 crore to Chhattisgarh in addition to existing royalty of Rs24.70 crore.

The gold deposit was previously explored between 1981 and 1990 by the Directorate of Geology and Mining, of erstwhile state of Madhya Pradesh.

The level of exploration undertaken so far falls under the G3 category as defined in the Minerals (Evidence of Mineral Contents) Rules, 2015 and therefore it was qualified to be auctioned as a composite licence. The winner of composite licence will carry out detailed exploration to take the deposit to a G2 category as stipulated in the rules.

Baghmara saw aggressive bidding and the bidding went on for nearly 13 hours on Friday and concluded late in the night. Over 160 bids were submitted.

Earlier, on 18 February successful auction of mining lease was granted for Karhi Chandi limestone block in Baloda Bazaar and on February 19 Kesla limestone block in Raipur district. Karhi Chandi limestone block also earned the distinction of becoming the first non-coal mining lease to be auctioned in India.

Chhattisgarh has ample reserves of several minerals and metals, including iron-ore, coal, bauxite and limestone. The licensing of the gold mine would be a huge attraction for industries and for revenue generation for the state.