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Striking it rich: Hutti gold mines on expansion spree

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Going for gold: Workers drilling large diameter blast holes at the underground mine in Hutti
Going for gold: Workers drilling large diameter blast holes at the underground mine in Hutti

D.K. Kishan Rao

Company plans to extract gold ore from a depth of 28,000 feet by 2012

The company produces 7 kg to 8 kg of gold a day

It earned a profit of about Rs. 145 crore in 2007-08

Raichur: The Hutti Gold Mines Company Limited (HGML), the only gold extraction company in the country, has set a target of extracting gold ore from a depth of 28,000 feet by the end of 2012.

The ongoing expansion programme at the ore milling unit of the HGML at Hutti in the district will be completed by May next year and the proposed second phase expansion programme to improve ore extraction will be taken up the year after that and completed by 2012 at a cost of about Rs. 348 crore.

According to official sources, the extraction of gold ore has reached a depth of about 2,600 ft in the mining area around Hutti village in Lingsugur taluk, extracting about 1,500 tonnes of ore a day. In addition, another 250 tonne ore is being extracted from the open cast mining at the Ooti and Hira-Buddinni areas near Hutti taking the total extraction of ore to 1,750 tonnes a day. The available ore has helped the company to produce 7 kg to 8 kg of gold a day.

The sources said that the existing capacity of the ore milling unit is expected to be expanded to 2,000 tonnes by next year when the ongoing work on the new milling plant (Snag Ball Mill) will be completed. As of now, about 60 per cent of the building work on the plant has been completed and the assembling of the milling plant is in progress. The milling plant with a cost of Rs. 68.22 crore will be ready by May next year.

There is a need to expand the depth of mining as it is expected that the ore at the present depth of 2,000 feet might exhaust in the next few years. In this regard, it has been proposed to take up the development of the mining activities in the second phase modernisation programme at a cost of Rs. 169.85 crore, which involves the development of mining area up to a depth of 28,000 feet and installation of a new improved six-metre radius shaft up to a depth of 1,000 metres. It would not only help to carry more than 80 workers at a time to the required depth, but also improve the ventilation system inside the mining area. The work on the project will be launched next year with a target to complete it by August 2012, sources said.

Apart from the reopening of the defunct Gray Shaft at the south end of the mining area, the company has also proposed to computerise the existing mechanical system for controlling the whole operation of mining and milling units at an estimated cost of Rs. 16.32 crore. It also proposed to take up underground mining activity at the Ooti and Hira-Buddinni areas once the open cast mining comes to an end. The five-level geological survey at Hira-Buddini areas is nearing completion and the proposed underground mining activity is expected to start soon, the sources said.

The company, which earned a profit of about Rs. 145 crore in 2007-08, has earned a profit of about Rs. 93 crore by end of September in the current financial year. With an average percentage of 4.76 gm of gold per tonne of ore, it produced about 1,378.27 kg of gold till September this year as against the production of 20,808 kg of gold in the previous year with an average recovery of 4.99 grams a tonne of ore.

The company has set aside Rs.12.09 crore to take up gold mining in Chitradurga, Davangere and Shimoga districts where the preliminary survey work has been completed. It proposes to take up the final survey in these areas after getting the reconnaissance permission from the Government. It has also had launched a programme to expand the wind power plant at Chitradurga at an estimated cost of Rs. 8.87 crore. Of the 18 MW planned, a plant with a capacity of 9.3 MW has been functioning, it added.

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