NMDC diamond auction to fetch over $1 million

We publish courtesy of MINEWEB

MUMBAI – The stage is set. India’s mineral giant, the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) has thrown the floor open and invited bids at its auction on Thursday, for its pear-shaped  34.37 carat diamond, the largest gem ever to be uncovered at its Panna mines in the north-central state of Madhya Pradesh.

NMDC also plans to tender about 40 other diamonds, weighing between 5 and 30 carats, which are yet to be valued, at its two-day auction which commenced in Mumbai on September 16. Some 9,700 carats of rough diamonds are up for grabs, with the company expecting to raise over $1 million from the auction. The auction of the largest gem is not included in this.
The Panna mines at Majhgaon are considered to be Asia’s biggest mechanised diamond mines, with its diamonds rated next to those produced from South African mines. The mine produced a 32 carat diamond in 2005 and a 30.30 carat diamond in 2003. Officials said the mining operations had shut down in 2005, due to non-clearance by the forest authorities and approvals from the adjoining wildlife sanctuary. Operations resumed in August last year, after the firm received a conditional nod from the Supreme Court of India.
Due to the dislocation, the company produced only about 17,000 carats last fiscal year, against a target of 35,000 carats. The Panna mines have an estimated reserve of 12 lakh carats of diamonds. The company plans to produce close to 1 lakh carats of diamonds in 2010-11.
NMDC is an India-based iron ore producer and exporter, operating its mines in Chhattisgarh and Karnataka. The company operates in two business segments: iron ore and other minerals and services. At the start of the year, the firm had said that it had found traces of diamond deposits in Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
In association with top diamond producer De Beers, NMDC noted the possible diamond deposits. Surveys are also underway by both the companies in these states, to detect gold deposits.
The companies’ explorations in the three states resulted in the discovery of 41 kiberlites and 13 lamproite pipes, which hint at the existence of more diamond deposits. Kimberlite and lamproite are solidified volcanic magma and work as elevators to bring diamonds with other minerals to the earth’s surface.
kimberlite and lamproites were also discovered in Kalahandi, Nawarangpur, Nuapada and Bolangir districts of Orissa, and in Kurnool, Prakasam and Anantapur districts in Andhra Pradesh. Exploration by a private firm, CRA Exploration India Pvt Ltd, indicated the discovery of several mineralised zones in Anantapur and Kurnool districts. In Karnataka, these were discovered in the Gulbarga district.

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