By Rutam Vora
In what is being considered as a major achievement for the Gujarat's mineral industry, deposits of potash have been identified in Kutch district of the state, senior government officials claimed on Monday.
"In a major development, we have identified deposits of potash in Kutch. This is a considerable achievement for the state and it will prove as a treasure for the country as a whole. Currently, we have to rely heavily on the imports from Canada for potash," said M Sahu, principal secretary, department of industries and mines, Government of Gujarat.
As per government officials, the initial geological mapping has shown traces of potash in Kutch region. However, government is looking to rope-in geological research and testing agencies to measure the exact quantum of the reserves and check the feasibility of the commercial mining.
"This is a new discovery. For the first time in Gujarat, deposits of potash have been found. However, the discovery is at the preliminary stage at present," said Vinay Vyasa, commissioner of geology and mining, government of Gujarat. The state-run mining player, Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation (GMDC) already has mining operations in the Kutch region.
"We will rope in other agencies to identify exact quantum of deposits and check the viability of the commercial exploration. However, we believe there is considerable potash deposits there," said an official of GMDC. It may be noted that besides GMDC, another state-run chemicals major, Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC) was looking to secure potash supplies by exploring possibilities of acquisition of stakes in Canadian potash companies in Canada and Russia. As per commissioner of geology and mining, government of Gujarat, Gujarat currently produces 59 minerals, of which 38 are major minerals including bauxite, bentonite, lignite, limestone, manganese ore, gypsum, coal and 21 minor minerals with sizeable reserves.
For potash, India depends heavily on imports. As per the recent industry estimates, India's potash imports would remain at around 3.5 - 4 million tonne (MT) in 2012.