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Ants lead metallurgists to discovery of 230 million tonnes gold mine in Bihar

As a colony of ants carried the soil, locals saw tiny particles of yellow shingles mixed in the mud, which spread a rumour of a gold mine nearby that turned out to be true

The government has reportedly been prompted by ants to accord permission for exploration of the “country’s largest” gold reserve in District Jamui, a senior official said on Saturday. As per a Geological Survey of India (GSI) survey, around 222.88 million tonnes of the gold reserve, including 37.6 tonnes of mineral-rich ore, are present in Jamui of Bihar.

According to a local legend, about 40 years ago, there was a huge banyan tree in the area. To escape the heat of the sun, ants start building nests under the banyan tree. When the ants began carrying the soil from the area, some locals saw tiny yellow shingles mixed in the soil. A rumour spread soon in the semi-rural area, which prompted a search operation by metallurgists.

“The state Mines and Geology Department is in consultation with agencies engaged in exploration, including GSI and the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC), for exploration of gold reserves in Jamui.

“The consultation process started after analysing the GSI findings which indicated the presence of gold in areas such as Karmatia, Jhajha and Sono in Jamui district,” Additional Chief Secretary cum Mines Commissioner Harjot Kaur Bamhrah told PTI. She said the state government is likely to sign an with a central agency or agencies for G3 (preliminary) stage exploration within a month’s time.

“In certain areas, G2 (general) exploration can also be carried out,” Bamhrah said.

Union Minister of Mines Pralhad Joshi had last year informed the Lok Sabha that holds the highest share of India’s gold reserves.

In a written reply, he had said that has 222.885 million tonnes of gold metal, which amounts to 44 per cent of the total gold reserves in the country.

“As per the National Mineral Inventory, the total resources of primary gold ore in the as on 1.4.2015 are estimated at 501.83 million tonnes with 654.74 tonnes of gold metal and out of this, is endowed with 222.885 million tonnes (44 per cent) of ore containing 37.6 tonnes of metal,” Joshi had said.

India’s most famous gold mines are in Karnataka, yielding the yellow metal in maximum volume. In the area of the Kolar Gold Fields in Bangarpet Taluk, Kolar, gold was first mined prior to the 2nd and 3rd centuries by digging small pits.

Golden objects found in Harappa and Mohenjo Daro have been traced to Kolar through the analysis of impurities — the impurities include 11% silver concentration, found only in KGF ore.

The Champion reef at the Kolar gold fields was mined to a depth of 50 m during the Gupta period in the fifth century AD. During the Chola period in the 9th and 10th centuries, the scale of the operation grew.

Gold continued to be mined by the 11th-century kings of southern India, the Vijayanagara Empire from 1336 to 1560, and later by Tipu Sultan, the king of Mysore state and the British. It is estimated that the total gold in Karnataka to date is 1,000 tonnes.

Other famous gold mines in India, in the decreasing order of their yield, are the Kolar Gold Fields in Karnataka, which remained shut in the period 1900-2001, the Lava Gold Mines in Jharkhand, the Mine in Uttar Pradesh, and Parasi, Pahadia, Kunderkocha and Bhitar Dari — all in Jharkhand.

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