Saturday, December 3, 2011

MINERALS, MINES AND MINING ACTIVITIES IN NEPAL


Krishna P. Kaphle,
Former Superintending Geologist, Department of Mines and Geology, Kathmandu, Nepal
E-mail:kpkaphle@gmail.com

1. Introduction

Nepal is a land locked mountainous country which lies in the central part of 2500km long Himalayan belt. It is surrounded by India in three sides and the northern part by Tibet/ China. Almost 83% of Nepalese territory is mountainous. It is an underdeveloped country with vast natural resources like Water, Minerals, Forest, varieties of Agricultural products and Medical herbs. For the economical development of the country exploitation and proper use of such valuable resources especially mineral resources is very important. The mountainous region and the geological environment there in is suitable for metallic, nonmetallic/ industrial and fuel mineral deposits as well as huge amount of construction materials and dimension/ decorative stones. Continues efforts are extremely necessary to find out more mineral deposits, timely exploitation of these resources, establish more mineral based industries and make multiple uses of these mineral commodities.

Minerals are the nonrenewable natural resources. Sustainable development of such resources helps to strengthen the economy of a country. During 9th and 10th Five year plan period the Government of Nepal has given high priority to explore, evaluate and sustainable development of industrial minerals, high price metals, base metals, fuel minerals, precious and semi precious stones. Mineral exploration activities were in peak   during 1974 - 1980 when DMG and UN funded Mineral Exploration Development Project was in action. All these investigation/ exploration activities in the past were able to delineate quite a few prospective areas and also able to identify some economic and sub-economic mineral deposits in different parts of the country. Since then the GON is inviting potential investors/ companies (national and International) to invest in mineral and mining sector and establish mineral based industries in Nepal. As a result many private investors took 451 exploration licenses for 21 minerals and 80 mining license for 12 mineral commodities (except river gravel and sand mines) from DMG. Few cement, marble and DBM/ talc, industries have been established and quite a few coal, semi-precious stones, lead and zinc, magnesite, talc, clay mines are in operation. Few more mineral based industries like cement industries are in production and few more on the process of trial production.  Exploration of oil and natural gas by International Oil Co. first by Shell Netherlands (now left) and later by Texana Resources Co. (USA) and CAIRN Energy PLC (UK) are in progress. Mineral resources play vital role in industrial development and over all increase in the national GDP. Present contribution to national GDP from minerals and mine is about 0.5% and on the whole from Minerals mines and mineral based industries sector is just around 2.4 % which is not very encouraging but could go above 10%  and even more if we can utilize the existing mineral resources.

2. General Geology and Mineral Resources

Geology of Nepal is very complex because of continues geodynamic process in the Himalayan region and that resulted many thrusting, faulting, folding, magmatic activities and metamorphic effects. Nepal Himalaya can be divided into five distinct morpho-geotectonic zones from south to north (Fig.1). From mineral resources point of view, the southernmost Terai Plain is potential for gravel, sand, ground water, petroleum and natural gas. The Sub Himalaya (Churia/ Siwalik foot hills) is the potential area for construction materials, radioactive minerals, petroleum, natural gas and minor amount of coal. Similarly, Lesser Himalaya (The Mahabharat Range including midlands) is promising for metallic minerals mainly Iron, copper, lead, zinc, cobalt, nickel, tin, tungsten, molybdenum, gold, uranium rare metals etc.; industrial minerals like magnesite, phosphorite, limestone, dolomite, talc, clay, kaoline etc.; gemstones like tourmaline, aquamarine/ beryl, garnet, kyanite, etc; fuel minerals e.g. coal, lignite, methane gas, petroleum and natural gas, hot springs and radioactive minerals; and voluminous construction materials crushed gravel as well as river boulders, gravel; sand some of the areas in Higher Himalaya are highly promising for precious and semiprecious stones, marble and metallic minerals like lead, zinc, uranium, gold etc. Tibetan Tethys zone is prospective for limestone, gypsum, brine water (salt) and natural gas. However, Because of rugged topography, difficult mountain terrain, complex geology, lack of infrastructures and financial constrain exploration and exploitation of these mineral resources in Nepal is still challenging.
3. Minerals, Mines and their Contribution

All the mineral resources that occur in the country are owned by the state. Department of Mines and Geology (DMG) under the Ministry of Industry is the responsible government organization which is conducting systematic geological mapping and mineral exploration activities in different parts of the country since last five decades. In course of time DMG has been successful to identify a number of metallic, nonmetallic and fuel mineral deposits/ prospects/ occurrences and prove some economic and sub-economic mineral deposits and also promote few mineral based industries like cement, agrilime, marble, talc, dead burnt magnesite, zinc-lead, coal, gemstones etc. Few small to medium scale mines of limestone, magnesite, marble, talc, coal, peat, clay, salt, talc, mica, quartz crystals, semiprecious and precious stones, dimension/ paving stones, roofing slates are in operation by the private entrepreneurs after obtaining the licenses from DMG. There are over 29 limestone quarries from which limestone are supplied to cement industries. Six gem mines are in operation and few gem industries, which do cutting and polishing of semiprecious and precious stones from Nepal and abroad are established. Construction aggregates, sand, gravel, dimension stone, decorative stones, paving stones and roofing slates are the other important mineral resources which have high demand for infrastructural development works. Metallic minerals like, iron, copper, lead, zinc, cobalt, nickel, gold etc. are also known from different parts of Nepal but they are not yet mined. Only two placer gold mining license has been issued to private sector but till this time they did not show any production. Thoshe iron deposit in Ramechhap is in the process of exploitation in near future by a private company. It is envisaged that if the GON give high priority to exploit mineral resources apply liberal policy, within next few years time more industrial minerals, base metals, precious metals, gemstones, coal and petroleum deposits will be proved, a number of mines will be operated and more mineral based industries and petroleum industries will be established in Nepal.

4. Government Organization, Rules and Regulations 

Department of Mines and Geology administrates and fully exercises the Mines and Mineral Act (2042BS) and Regulation (2065BS). Under the existing Rules and Regulations DMG issue both Prospecting and Mining Licenses to the interested investors (national/ international) and regularly inspects and monitors the mining activities carried out by the private lease holders. In FY 2066/67, 80 mines/ quarries of 12 different mineral commodities excluding the licenses issued by District Development Committees (DDC) are in operation after obtaining mining license from DMG. Similarly 451 prospecting licenses for prospection/ exploration of 21 mineral commodities are issued (DMG/ Planning Section). In FY 2066/67 DMG has collected around Rs2,00,00,000.00 as royalty/ revenue from this sector. DDCs also provide licenses to the private sectors for mining of construction materials like river boulders/ gravel/ sands present within their territories. It is expected that DDCs collect around Rs.500,000,000.00/year from such licenses. From petroleum companies the government receives more than Rs.2,55,60,000.00/year only from surface rental of lease area (7 blocks), taxes etc. Once the more mines come in operation, mineral industries are established and petroleum is discovered in the country many people will have job opportunity and all these will contribute substantially in national GDP.

4. Mining History

A number of small scale historical iron, copper, lead, zinc, cobalt, nickel mines and many slate, quartzite, dolomite and limestone quarries were in operation in many districts since more than 150 years. Old working pits, audits, smelting places, scattered slag and remnant of mine materials are the solid proofs of such mining activities in the past. In many cases the name of the village is derived after the particular mines e.g. Taba Khani, Phalam Khani, Shisa Khani, Sun Khani, Khani Khola etc. But at present almost none of these old workings/ mines are in operation due to various reasons. Therefore, reassessment and evaluation of such deposits/ mines by DMG or private sector are extremely warranted for further exploration and mining. One of the examples is Thoshe iron old working which was reassessed by DMG and later explored in detail by a private company and now it is in the process of mine development to exploit iron ore.

5. Mineral deposits, Mines and Their Status

Geological investigations and mineral exploration activities carried out mainly by DMG, UNDP projects, and very few by private entrepreneurs were able to identify more than sixty six mineral commodities (metallic, nonmetallic/ industrial, gemstone, and fuel mineral deposits/ prospects) in Nepal (Fig.2). Some of the important ones are briefly described below. Similarly geological, aeromagnetic and seismic survey conducted by DMG/ Petroleum Exploration Promotion Project (PEPP) and International Oil Companies like Shell Netherlands were able to identify some promising sites for petroleum and natural gas in southern part of the country mainly in the Terai and Chure area. Gas and oil seepages in Padukasthan, Sirsasthan etc. in Dailekh and gas seeps in Muktinath in Mustang are the indications of the existence of oil and natural gas in Nepal. Exploitation of oil and gas from Potwar in Pakistan and Aasam in India are another indicator that there should be oil pools in similar geological environment/ lithological horizons in Nepal. On this basis ten prospective blocks for exploration of petroleum and natural gas are identified (Fig.3). Two of them have been leased by Texana Resources Co. (USA), and five blocks by CAIRN Energy PLC. (UK). Both the companies did some preliminary field works and lab tests/ works but still they are reluctant to conduct extensive exploration field works due to unstable political situation in the country.

5.1 Metallic Minerals
Metallic minerals are very much used in various purposes in day to day life. They are mostly extracted from their respective ore minerals. Gold, platinum, silver and copper also occur as native state. A numbers of metallic ore minerals are known from different parts of Nepal only the important ones are briefly described.

Iron (Fe) is the principal metal which is used extensively in infrastructure development works, to manufacture heavy machinery equipment, arms, agricultural tools etc. The main iron ores like magnetite, hematite, lemonite/goethite occurrences/ prospects/ deposits are reported from more than 85 localities. Some of these ores were locally mined and smelted in different parts of Nepal since more than 150 years till 1951 (2007BS) but not a single iron mine is in operation at present. In those early days people were fully dependent on indigenous production and Nepal was also exporting iron and copper to Tibet. It was used in the domestic and agricultural utilities as well as arms and tool making purpose. The well known iron ore deposits are Phulchoki (Lalitpur), Thoshe (Ramechhap), Labdi Khola (Tanahun), Jirbang (Chitwan), Dhuwakot (Parbat), Purchaundi/ Lamunigad (Bitadi), Dahabagar, Kachali, and Ekghar/ Khanigaon  (Bajhang). Iron prospects and old workings are also known from different parts of Baitadi, Bajhang, Jajarkot, Rolpa, Surkhet, Myagdi, Baglung, Parbat, Chitwan, Ramechhap, Okhaldhunga, Taplejung etc. Phulchoki iron deposit still remained untransformed into commercialization due to its location in the environmentally sensitive area and shortage of power like electricity and unavailability of good quality coal for smelting and other reasons. Thoshe iron deposit was mined in small scale during Rana's time for almost 100 years. But it was totally closed after the democracy (after 2007BS) when finished iron became available in the market. DMG (Kaphle & Khan 1995, 1996, 2006) did the assessment of this prospect and calculated geological reserve of about 10.5 million ton hematite ore. Recently a private company has completed the exploration work and proved 15.9 million ton ore reserve (geological reserve) with average iron content 45% that can be upgraded by simple washing to over 60% iron. The company has applied for mining license in DMG. It has a plan to produce 150,000 metric tons of hematite (+ - magnetite) ore per year. Few Chinese Companies are also showing their interest to invest in mining and set up iron and steel industry in Nepal. 28 exploration license for iron ore have issued by DMG (source DMG FY2066/67).

Copper (Cu) is another important metal which has multiple uses in this developing world. It is mainly used in electrical industries to produce electrical appliances, equipments, telecommunications equipments, copper wires, crafts, making alloys, utensils, and other household purposes. It was mined traditionally in Nepal since historic time but at present there is no running copper mine. The common copper ore found in Nepal are mainly chalcopyrite, and few malachite, azurite, covellite, cuprite, bornite, and chalcocite. Copper ore occurrences/ prospects/ deposits are known from more than 107 localities in the country. Small scale copper mines were in operation in Gyazi (Gorkha), Okharbot (Myagdi) and Wapsa (Solukhumbu), till to the last decade and each mine was able to produce 20 to 50mt finished copper per year. Other copper prospects/ deposits like Kalitar (Makwanpur), Dhusa (Dhadhing), Wapsa (Solukhumbu), Bamangaon (Dadeldhura), Khandeshori/ Marma (Darchula), Kurule (Udayapur), Bhut Khola (Tanahun), Pandav Khani (Baglung), Baise Khani (Myagdi), Minamkot (Syangja), Chhirling Khola (Bhojpur), Jantare Khani (Okhaldhunga) are the major ones. Old workings are known from different parts of Darchula, Bajhang, Bajura, Parbat, Baglung, Myagdi, Gulmi, Tanahun, Gorkha, Makwanpur, Kavre, Ramechhap, Okhaldunga, Dhankuta, Solukhumbu, Ilam and Taplejung districts. Among them Siddhi Khani (Ilam), Mul Khani (Gulmi) Ningre (Myagdi) are the important ones. 42 exploration licenses for copper exploration have been issued by DMG (source DMG FY2066/67).

Zinc (Zn) and Lead (Pb) occurrences/ prospects/ deposits are reported from more than 54 localities in different parts of Nepal. In most cases their ore minerals e.g. Sphalerite and Galena are associated in the same deposit like as in Ganesh Himal area (Rasuwa), Phakuwa (Sankhuwasabha), Labang- Khairang, Baraghare and Damar (Makwanpur), Pangum (Solukhumbu), Salimar valley (Mugu/ Humla), Phulchoki (Lalitpur), Sisha Khani and Kandebas (Baglung), Dhuwakot (Parbat), Bhaludanda (Dhadhing, Khola Khani (Taplejung) etc. Most of them are known as old workings. Among them only Ganesh Himal Zinc - Lead deposit (Lari and Suple) has been proved as an economic deposit and underground mine development work has been completed by Nepal Metal Company since long time before but there is no production as yet. Due to small size (about 2.3million tons zinc + lead combined, Chakrabarti 2003) of the deposit, its location in the remote area and fall of lead price in the international market are the major causes that could not run the mine in spite of its commercial grade. Zinc is mainly used in galvanizing iron, dry battery, pigments, soldering, dyeing, glue making etc. It is also used to manufacture various alloys e.g. brass, bronze etc. Lead is used to make lead sheets, pipes, ammunition, alloys, fusible metal, pigments, dyeing and printing process, insecticide, medicine etc.  Seven exploration licenses for lead and zinc have been issued by DMG. Ganesh Himal Zinc- lead mine is not in operation at present.

Cobalt (Co) is not as common as iron, copper, lead and zinc in Nepal. Cobaltite is the main cobalt ore. Other ore minerals like erythrite and absolite are also recorded in different prospects. Few old workings for cobalt are known from Netadarling & Tamghas (Gulmi) and Samarbhamar (Arghakhanchi). They are also recorded from Lamadanda (Dhadhing), Nangre (Kavre), Bhorle (Ramechhap), Bauli Gad (Bajhang) etc. There is no cobalt mine at present. All these oldworkings/ prospects need proper review and evaluation before further exploration. Cobalt is mainly used in making high resistant steel and alloys and also in glass factories to produce blue colored glass.

Nickel (Ni) occurrences are reported from few polymetallic sulphide deposits like in Bamangaon (Dadeldhura), Bering Khola (Ilam), Bauligad (Bajhang), Khopre Khani (Sindhuli) and oldworkings from Nangre, Nigre and Bhorle (Kavre) area. Niccolite and Pentlandite are the chief ore minerals. They are mainly associated with chalcopyrite, pyrrhotite and pyrite. Nickel is mainly used in making steel, cast iron, bronzes, brasses and alloys of chromium, lead, cobalt, manganese, aluminium, silver and gold. Nickel is mostly related to basic and ultrabasic rocks in its origin.

Gold (Au) is a precious metal which has a very good worldwide market. It is widely used in making coins, ornaments, jewelry, dental appliances, electroplating, metal coating and many other purposes. In Nepal alluvial/ placer gold are frequently wined by local dwellers (Botes) from the river gravel/ sediments deposited by the rivers like Mahakali, Chamliya, Jamari Gad, Seti, Karnali, Bheri, Rapti, Lungri Khola & Phagum Khola (Rolpa), Kaligandaki, Myagdi Khola, Modi, Madi, Marshyangdi, Trishuli, Budhigandaki, and Sunkoshi along their high and low flood plains as well as terraces. Primary gold occurrences are known from Lungri Khola area (Rolpa); Bangabagar, Gorang & Jamari gad (Baitadi); Bamangaon (Dadeldhura) but they are yet to be evaluated by detail exploration. One of the prospective sources of primary gold appears to be high grade metamorphic rocks in the higher Himalaya and quartz sulphide veins in polymetal sulphide deposits in quartzite and chloritic mica schist of Lesser Himalaya. There is no gold mine as such and production record in Nepal although seasonal micro scale panning of alluvial gold by local people in the above mentioned major rivers are going on since historic time. So far DMG has issued 24 prospecting licenses and 2 mining licenses for gold. But no one is in production
                                                           .
Silver (Ag) is generally associated with zinc-lead ore and in gold. In Nepal minor amount of silver is reported in the zinc + lead ore of Ganesh Himal (Rasuwa), Barghare (Makwanpur), and polymetal sulphide of Bering Khola (Ilam), cobalt ore in Netadarling (Arghakhanchi) and Samarbhamar (Gulmi). No silver ore as such is reported in Nepal except as associated mineral in zinc-lead ores and gold. Silver is mainly used to make ornaments, jewelry, coins, handicrafts, utensils, dental appliances, and in many other purposes.

Tin (Sn) mineralizations are normally reported in the vicinity of granitic rocks. Cassiterite is the main ore mineral found in Nepal. It is recorded mainly at Meddi and Ganera (Dadeldhura) and Mandu Khola area (Makwanpur). In-situ cassiterite mineralization and cassiterite rich floats are seen in Meddi Khola. But it does not appear as an economic deposit. Extensive exploration of tin and tungsten minerals in the vicinity of granite bodies in Lesser Himalaya as well as Higher Himalaya might help to find out the economic tin deposits. It is mainly used in making brass and bronze alloys, coating, lining, plating the food containers, in chemicals etc.

Tungsten (W) is a very important element that is used in electric bulbs, making hard high speed cutting steels and tungsten cable, drilling bits, armory etc. The common ores of tungsten are Scheelite and Wolframite. In Nepal tungesten ores like scheelite occurrences are known from Bamangaon polymetal sulphide deposit and few other places in Dadeldhura and Makwanpur districts. The grade of copper - tungsten prospect in Bamangaon is not that impressive for economic mining. However, polymetal (Cu, W, Mo, Au, Bi and Ni) mining could be economic. Further assessment and evaluation of the deposit is warranted to confirm as economic deposit.

Minor occurrences of Molybdenum (Mo) are reported from Khari Khola (Solukhumbu), Bamangaon (Dadeldhura), Bauli Gad (Bajhang), Lungri Khola (Rolpa), Samarbhamar (Arghakhanchi) and Chau Khola (Makwanpur). Molybdenite is the chief ore mineral. Detail exploration in the known area and investigation in some new areas in the vicinity of granitic rocks and pegmatites are necessary to find economic deposits. Molybdenum is mainly used in hardening and ductility increasing in steel, cast iron and metal alloys.

Chromium (Chromite) and Titanium (Ilmenite, Rutile) deposits is not known. However, chromium and titanium are detected from the Iron ore of Thoshe (Ramechhap) and Bauligad (Bajhang). Rutile grains are commonly recorded in the heavy concentrate samples from most of the major rivers of Nepal.

Text Box:
Autonite (Uranium ore from Jagat, Kathmandu)

Placer gold in Kaligandaki River

Fig.4: Mineral Resources Map of Nepal (Only few locations are shown, source DMG, compiled by Kaphle, 2007)

Uranium (U) and Thorium (Th) are the two known radioactive elements in Nepal. Radioactive minerals like autonite are recorded from Thumki, Jagat, Panchmane, Gagalphedi and Chunikhel in Shivapuri area in Kathmandu. Few other ores of uranium like uranitite, tyuamunite, carnotite and cofinite are also known from Tinbhangale, Chandi Khola and Chiruwa Khola (Makwanpur); Buka Khola (Sindhuli); Mardar Khola and Panpa Khola (Chitwan); Jamari Gad, Bangabagar, Baggoth, Gorang (Baitadi); and traces in different section of Chamliya River (Darchula). Among them Gorang and Tinbhangale prospects appear interesting but economic evaluation of these prospects has yet to be carried out for their quality and quantity. Uranium is mainly used in nuclear power generation, nuclear medicine, atomic weapons, technical and industrial appliances, agriculture, age dating of rocks, etc.

Bismuth (Bi) ore mineral like bismuthinite is reported from Bamangaon polymetal sulphide deposit in Dadeldhura and Baraghare and Mandu Khola area in Makwanpur district. It is mainly used to make alloys with antimony, lead, tin and cadmium, in medicine and cosmetic items.

Cinnabar is the chief ore of Mercury (Hg). It is reported from Tirche Pani/ Taruka. Talalov (1972) reported cinnabar from the heavy concentrate sample from Khimti River and Zinc-lead ore from Pangu. Mercury is mainly used in pharmaceuticals, thermometer, electrical apparatus, insecticides etc.

Lithium (Li) occurrences are known from the pegmatites of Hyakule and Phakuwa (Sankhuwasabha district). Petalite and Spodumene are the main ores of lithium. Lepidolite (mica) appears to be the source of lithium in Pegmatite. Extensive exploration of pegmatites is required to find the economic lithium and other rare earth metal deposits. It is mainly used in ammunition, printing, soldering acid resistant soling and cell industries.  


Berilium (Be) can be extracted from beryl and aquamarine which are known from the pegmatites of  Khaptad, and different parts of Manang, Kathmandu, Nuwakot, Rasuwa, Phakuwa, Hyakule, Ilam and  Taplejung districts.
.
Arsenopyrite and realgar are the main sources of Arsenic (As). Arsenopyrite mainly associated with pyrite and pyrrhotite in polymetal sulphide deposits e.g. in Bamangaon and Bering Khola. Occasionally arsenopyrite is also the pathfinder for gold mineralization. It is commonly used in making lead shots, dyes, pigments, insecticide, medicine and in many chemicals.

In addition to above mentioned metals/ metallic ore minerals minor occurrences of Rare Metals like Tantalum (Ta), Niobium (Nb), Lanthenum (La), Celenium (Ce), Cadmium (Cd), Titanium (Ti), Venedium (V), and Mercury (Hg) are also reported from different parts as associated minerals. But they are not studied individually. Tentalum and Niobium are traced form the pegmatites and Granites in the Lesser Himalaya. Chemical analysis of some of the muscovites from pegmatites of Phakuwa (Sankhuwasabha) has indicated up to 140ppm Ta. Further investigations are required to know their status and confirm their economic value.

All these indicate that Nepal is potential for metallic minerals. Exploration activities in the past have revealed that most of them are small in size, low to medium in grade and sub-economic to none economic deposits. Now the price of many metals has gone up significantly. Therefore, further detail investigations in the known areas, evaluation of specific deposits and exploration in the new geologically prospective areas may help to find the potential economic deposits of various metallic ores in Nepal.

5.2 Nonmetallic Minerals
A number of Nonmetallic minerals like magnesite, phosphorite, talc, limestone, dolomite, quartz, mica, clay, silica sand, gemstones, decorative and dimension stones, construction materials etc. are known from different parts of the country. Some of the important ones which are explored up to certain stages are briefly described.

5.2.1 Nonmetallic/ Industrial Minerals

(a) Limestone: Over 1.3 billion metric tons of cement grade limestone deposits are already known from the Lesser Himalayan region only. Exploration of limestone by DMG, in the past was able to identify a number of large to small size limestone deposits. Based on some of the proved limestone deposits few cement industries are already in operation/ production, few others are under construction and quite a few others are in the pipelines. With the rapid increase of development activities such as construction of roads, bridges, dams, irrigation cannels, housing complexes, multistory buildings etc. the demands of cement is also increasing progressively. Present domestic cement production from Udayapur, Hetaunda, Annapurna, Dynasty, Maruti,  Bishwakarma, Kasmos, Jagadamba cement industries and few other clinker based mini cement plants could fulfill about 40 - 50% of the total internal demand. The rest has yet to be imported mostly from India and few from Indonesia, Korea, Japan by paying hard currency. About 6 new cement industries named Sibom, Sonapur, Ghorahi, Rolpa, Bishal and Nigale cement industries Pvt. Ltd. are under construction and they will start cement production very soon. Therefore, establishment of more cement factories based on own limestone resources is rewarding. Some of the known limestone deposits, mine and cement industries are presented (Table-1). There are few more known limestone deposits in Khotag, Udayapur, Syangja, Palpa, Arghakhanchi, Dang, Pyuthan, Sallyan, Rolpa, Bajhang, Baitadi and Darchula districts. Preliminary studies indicate that there is a possibility to find more than 2.5 billion tons of cement grade limestone deposits only in the Lesser Himalaya. 29 mining licenses and 196 prospecting licenses of limestone have issued by DMG to private sectors (DMG, 2001, FY2066/67).


Table-1: Status of the limestone deposits, mines and mineral industries.
Location of limestone deposit/ District
Proved Deposit (Million tons)
Cement Factory/ development stage
Production capacity in ton per day (tpd)
Present Status & Remarks

Sindhali Limestone, Udayapur
72mln tons
Udayapur Cement Industry
800 tpd
Mines and factory in operation

Bhanise & Okhare, Limestone Makwanpur
20mln tons
Hetaunda, Cement Industry
750 tpd
    "                     "

Chobhar Limestone, Kathmandu
14.5mln tons
Himal Cement Industry
360 tpd
Factory is closed

Jogimara Limestone, Dhadhing
3.6mln tons
Agriculture lime Ind. Now  by Hetaunda Cement Ind.

Mine  in operation by Hetaunda Cement Ind.

Beldanda Limestone, Dhadhing
1.72mln tons
Annapurna Cement plant
20 tpd
Mines and factory in operation.

Kakaru Khola, Sindhuli
1 mln tons
Maruti Cement Industry
200 -400 tpd
     "                      "

Narpani Limestone, Arghakhanchi
17 mln tons
Promoted for a cement industry
1000 tpd
Production started

Nigale Limestone, Dhankuta
6.3 mln tons
(mine able)
Leased by Butwal Cement Ind. (Pvt.) Ltd.
800 tpd
Cement Plant under construction

Badichaur Limestone, Makwanpur
NA
Sibom Cement Ind. pvt. Ltd.
1200tpd
Cement Plant under construction




Dang
NA
Sonapur Cement Ind. pvt Ltd
750tpd
Cement Plant under construction

Dang Limestone
NA
Ghorahi Cement Ind. Pvt. Ltd.
1800tpd
Cement Plant under construction

Rolpa limestone, Rolpa
NA
Rolpa Cement Ind. Pvt. Ltd.
500tpd
Cement Plant under construction

Clinker based (clinker from India)
NA
Bishal Cement Ind. Pvt. Ltd.
400tpd
Cement Plant under construction

Chaukune Limestone, Surkhet
31 mln tons

Muktishree Cement Ind. Pvt. Ltd.
1000tpd (proposed)
In process to establish a cement industry

Kajeri Limestone, Sallyan
29 mln tons

Bishwakarma Cement Ind. Pvt. Ltd.
1500 tpd  (proposed)
In process to establish a cement plant.

K.P. Cement (Clinker based)
NA
K.P. Cement Ind. Pvt. Ltd.
NA
In production

Goyenka Cement (Clinker based)
NA
Goyenka cement Ind. Pvt. Ltd.
NA
In production

Sarada limestone, Dang
525 mln tons
Private Co.  evaluating the deposit
1500-3000tpd
Proposed for a large cement factory

Hapure Limestone, Dang
26.5 mln tons
Dang Cement Ind. Pvt. Ltd
NA
In process to establish a cement plant

Gandhari limestone,  Dang
17.6 mln tons
Rapti Cement Ind. Pvt. Ltd
NA
In process to establish a cement plant

Halesi Limestone, Khotang
8 mln tons
Not yet evaluated
NA
Mining not possible

Lakharpata Limestone, Surkhet
30 mln tons
In a process to  evaluate
NA
Evaluation warranted

Supa Khola Limestone,
Arghakhanchi
8.2 mln tons

Preliminary evaluation completed
NA
High overburden ratio

Diyarigad, Chauraha, and Bhimeshor Limestone, Baitadi
>250 mln tons
 (combined)
Preliminary exploration completed
NA
Promoted for detail exploration and mining for a cement Ind.

Chuladhunga – Ghyampathumka Limestone, Udayapur
40 mln tons

Preliminary evaluation completed
NA
Planned to promote a cement industry

Galtar Limestone, Udayapur
21.54 mln tons
Saury Cement Ind. Pvt. Ltd
NA
Planned to establish a cement factory

Bhattedanda Limestone Lalitpur
5.68 mln tons
Explored by private sector
NA
Detail evaluation warranted

Lele Limestone, Lalitpur
3.98 mln tons

Explored by Bhardeu Cement Ind. Pvt. Ltd.
NA
Recently established a cement factory to produce K.P. Cement

Nandu Limestone, Kavre
4.67 mln tons
Explored by private sector
NA
Detail evaluation warranted

Pandrang Limestone, Makwanpur
2.56 mln tons

Explored/ evaluated by private sector (Ajaya Sumargi)
NA
Planned for cement industry

Badichaur Limestone, Makwanpur
2.8 mln tons
Century Cement Ind. (Pvt.) Ltd.
NA
In process to establish cement factory

Darshan Danda Limestone, Gorkha
mln tons
Explored by private sector
NA
Planned for cement industry

Kanchan Limestone Quarry, Palpa
1.6 mln tons
Explored & mined by pvt. sector
NA
Quarry is in operation since long time

Shakti Khor, Chitwan
3.2 mln tons
Star Lime Ind. Pvt. Ltd.
NA
Industry established

Others
>150 mln tons
Yet to explore
-
Possible deposits

Total deposit
>1,297.59mln tons


Proved + Probable + possible

Source: Department of Mines and Geology (DMG, FY 2066/67)                                           NA = Not Available/ Not known
(b) In many cases Dolomite and limestone occur together. From geological mapping it is known that over 5 billion tons (possible) of dolomite occur mainly in Dhankuta, Khotang, Udayapur, Sindhuli, Dolakha, Kavre, Kathmandu, Makwanpur, Dhadhing, Syangja, Palpa, Baglung, Gulmi, Arghakhanchi, Dang, Pyuthan, Sallyan, Rolpa, Rukum, Jajarkot, Surkhet, Dailekh, Jumla, Achham, Doti, Bajhang, Bajura, Baitadi and Darchula districts in the Lesser Himalayan and in some parts of Higher Himalayan region. Most of them are not yet explored in detail and still do not know their grade and quality to utilize as raw materials for industries. At places they are used in construction materials mainly in road paving, house construction, and in all other civil construction works. Some dolomite could be used as flux in steel industry and as filler in glass industry. It is also used to produce soral cement, and in paint, soap, detergent and agriculture purpose. DMG has issued 10 prospecting licenses for dolomite.

(c) Phosphorite is one of the main raw materials to manufacture chemical fertilizers like fused magnesium phosphate, triple super phosphate etc. Present annual demand of chemical fertilizer in Nepal is about 150,000mt/ year. Except one or two fertilizer blinding plant no fertilizer plant based in the local phosphatrite minerals exist in the country. All types of chemical fertilizer have to be imported by paying hard currency. In this context we should utilize the phosphorite (0.7 - 0 4.7m thick bed) which is confined to massive cherty and stromatolitic dolomite of Pre-Cambrian to Lower Paleozoic age that occur in Dhick Gad, Junkuna, Morgaon, Sanagaon and Dhaubisaune areas in Baitadi, Far-western Nepal (Bashyal,1984). This phosphorite consists of 5–32 % P2O5. Similar (1 to 23m thick) stromatolitic phosphorite band is also traced at Tarugad, Juilgad, Goichan - Kandechaur area in Bajhang and further east to Bajura. Detail investigation and evaluation of Baitadi phosphorite is warranted to confirm grade and tonnage of the deposit and its industrial tests to manufacture chemical fertilizer. Detrital phosphorite fragments (<1mm - 1.5cm) are recorded from Eocene argillaceous limestone lenses and beds in Sewar Khola (Dang) and Mari Khola (Pyuthan). P2O5 content in them is <5% to 10% (Kaphle & Pradhanang 1985). However, the phosphorite fragment itself revealed up to 25% P2O5. Exploration of phosphorite in the vicinity of MBT was able to trace few phosphatic rocks consisting of <5% P2O5. Only few phosphatic nodules/ lenses consist of up to 22% P2O5 in Takure, Barahakshetra, Tawa Khola (Kazitsyn, 1970); Gawar Khola, Sewar Khola in Midwestern Nepal and in Khulia Khola (Kaphle 1997) in Far-Western Nepal.

(d) Magnesite: 180 million tons (66 million tons of high grade, MgO content 88 to 96% loss free basis) of magnesite deposit in Kharidhunga, Dolakha; 20 million tons of mediums to low-grade magnesite deposit in Kampughat in Udayapur district; and few small size magnesite occurrences from Palpa, Baitadi and Dolakha have been identified. Kharidhunga magnesite deposit is one of the biggest and best quality magnesite in south Asia. Based on Kharidhunga magnesite an open cast mine (Fig.2) has been developed to exploit magnesite as a raw material for Dead Burnt Magnesite (DBM) plant located in Lamosanghu. Some technical problems appeared during test production of DBM. To solve this problem a new technology and investors are looked for. At present both mine as well as DBM plant are not in operation. Magnesite is suitable to manufacture high temperature refractory bricks that can be used for lining in the furnaces, steel industries and crucibles in chemical industries. It is also used to manufacture fused magnesium phosphate (FMP) fertilizer, production of chemicals, in glass, sugar, copper, petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries. DMG has issued 2 prospecting and 2 mining licenses for magnesite.

 

(e) Talc: Occurrences of talc bands, lenses, veins and pockets are known in magnesite, dolomite and chloritic talc schist in different parts of Lalitpur, Dolakha, Sindhupalchok, Dhadhing, Chitwan, Tanahun, Kaski, Syangja, Surkhet, Bajhang, Bajura, Baitadi and Darchula districts. At places small-scale mines are in operation. DMG has issued 25 prospecting and 6 mining license to the private sector. Khari Dhunga talc mine is in operation since more than 2 decade. Talc is crushed and pulverized to make talcum powder (Kharidhunga in Dolakha). High purity talc is used in cosmetics, medium grade with intermediate purity is used in paper, plastic, fillers, ceramic, paints, soaps, plasters, foundry facing lubricant, crayons, leather and soap factories etc. Low purity products are utilized in hearthstone, dry fire extinguisher powder etc. Talc can be carved into idols, ashtray, ornaments etc. It has fairly good market in the country itself.


(f) Mica: Several but comparatively small occurrences of mica (muscovite and biotite) books are known from different parts of Nepal. But mineable coarse size mica books are recorded only in complex pegmatite bodies from Langtang (Rasuwa), Bhumidanda and Kharanetar (Nuwakot), Chaukibhanjyang (Kathmandu), Nibuwagaon (Sindhupalchok), Lekhpatan, Fulbari and Tikachaur (Jajarkot), Khaptad (Bajhang), Baskot and Bhasukan (Doti), Phakuwa and Hyakule (Sankhuwasabha), Fical (Ilam), Chilingdin (Panchthar), Rangmale, Akabu/ Sainsabu, Dobal Pokhari, and Khanigaon (all in Taplejung). Such pegmatites are economically significant for mica, gemstones, rare metals, quartz crystal and feldspar (Kaolin). Six prospecting and Two mining licenses for mica are issued by DMG. Mica being nonconductor of heat and electricity they are widely used in electrical goods and as fire proofing and sound insulation materials.

(g) Ceramic clay/ Red clay: Irregularly distributed scattered pockets of kaolin are known from Daman and Kharka/ Tistung (Makwanpur), Panchmane (Kathmandu), Dalchhap and few other places. They are mainly used in ceramics. Seven mining licenses and four prospecting licenses for Red clay have issued by DMG. Red clay from Panchkhal (Kavre), Lamosure (Hetaunda), Trijuga/ Beltar (Udayapur), Chidika (Arghakhanchi), Guttu (Surkhet) are used in cement factory. Clay from Thimi/ Bhaktpur is used in small-scale pottery industries. Huge amount of siltyclay deposits in different parts of Kathmandu valley is used to manufacture bricks. In villages it is also used in house wall painting. DMG has issued four prospecting and seven mining licenses.

 

(h) Pyrite: It is mainly used to extract sulphur and manufacture sulphur compounds e.g sulphurc acid, ferrus sulphate etc. It is rarely used as iron ore where no other iron ore is available. Pyrite is abundantly found in Bering Khola (Ilam), Chhirling Khola (Bhojpur), Meddi and Bamangaon (Dadeldhura), and many other places mainly in almost all polymetal sulphide deposits. Pyrite as such has not been mined in Nepal.


(i) Silica Sand: About 11.9 million tons of sand suitable for glass industry has been proved in Karra Khola near Hetaunda in Makwanpur district. Some industrial tests of the sand to manufacture glass were also performed by DMG. But till this time it has not yet been utilized. There is a possibility to find similar sand deposits in similar deposition environment (e.g. in Dudhaura Khola) in other parts of Nepal.


(j) Barites are known from Khanidanada (Pyuthan), Barghare (Makwanpur), Dhokadhunge (Rolpa), Phakuwa (Sankhuwasabha), Urathi, (Baitadi). True picture of barite resource is still unknown. Barite is mainly used in water well drilling, chemicals, paints, paper industries, medicine etc.

(k) Graphite is one of the significant mineral in metamorphic terrain in Lesser Himalayan regions. They are reported from Ilam, Dhankuta, Sankhusabha, Nuwakot, Sindhupalchok, Dadeldhura etc. It may occur at many places of the country but proper recording has not been made during mapping. It is mainly used in lead pencils, foundry facings, crucibles, paints, lubricants etc.

(l) Calcite deposit as such in large size is not identified in Nepal. However, minor calcite veins and lenses are recorded mainly in carbonate rocks. Calcites are known at few places as stalactite and stalegmite and dog toohspar in some of the limestone cavities/ caverns. Small scale calcite mine is under development in Nibuwagaon (Makwawnpur). Calcite is mainly used as fillers in the soap and toothpaste industries.

(m) Diatomite is reported from Chobhar, Thimi, Bode and few other places in Kathmandu valley. Small scale mining of diatomite is in operation in Thimi and Bode. It is mainly used in white washing, sound and heat insulation and as filter.

(n) Salt: Brine water that occurs in Narsing Khola (Mustang), Chhiding Khola and Chharkabhot (Dolpa) are tapped and dried for common salt production. Brine water of these area contains 1.5 to 3% NaCl, where as incrustation contains of 72.8% NaCl and 24.5% KCl. Among them salt is in production from the brine water of Narsing Khola since last 4 –5 decades. Annual production ranges from 8 to 50 tons. But recent production data is not available.


5.2.2 Gemstones

Semiprecious stones like tourmaline, aquamarine/ beryl, garnet, kyanite, amethyst, citrine, smoky quartz (quartz crystals); and precious stones like ruby, sapphire etc. are known only from few districts. Some of the gemstones are briefly described below. Gem cutting and polishing industries like (1) Himali Ratna Udyog, Dharan (2) Himalayan Gems, Nepal Pvt. Ltd. Kathmandu, (3) Birendra Thakali, Pokhara, (4) Mohan Shrestha, Kathmandu, (5) Udaya Tamrakar, Kathmandu, (6) Kohinoor gem industry, Kathmandu etc. are the main ones which are in operation. Few gem shops are running their business mainly in Kathmandu, Pokhara and other major cities.


(a) Tourmaline: Five distinct types of tourmaline are known from Nepal (Basset 1978). Gem quality distinct multihued tourmaline (elbaite) of Hyakule and Phakuwa, pink, bright green, light orange sometimes with repeated colour banding, olive green with amber coloured core are known from Hyakule, Eastern Nepal. Small-scale mines of aquamarine, beryl, tourmalines are in operation. It is estimated that over 13,000kg gem tourmaline has been mined from Hyakule over a period of five decade (Tamrakar, 1990). But at present except one all other mines are closed due to difficult mining condition, haphazard mining activities, unavailability of gem quality stones etc. Pegmatites of Langtang valley (Rasuwa) and Naje (Manang) are also promising for beryl/ aquamarine and tourmaline. Two tourmaline mines are in operation in Daha area in Jajarkot. Tourmaline crystals are cut and polished for gem. Four prospecting license have issued by DMG

(b) Beryl/ Aquamarine of Taplejung (Ikabu, Lodantar) area are high prized. Similarly hambergite, danburite, and ijolite are the important gemstones that are found in Nepal. In Taplejung beryl and aquamarine mines are in operation where as the tourmaline mines are still in development stage. Gem quality clear blue aquamarine of Phakuwa (Sakhuwasabha), aquamarine/ beryl and few green coloured tourmalines from Naje and few other localities in Manang district (Tamrakar, 1990, and Einfalt et al, 1995), western Nepal are reported. Lekhpatan and Tikachaur in Jajarkot; Jagat, Panchmane, Kagtigaon, in Kathmandu; Baguwa, Tarkeghyang, Nibuwagaon in Sindhupalchok are the other known places for Beryl. There is no properly managed mechanized mine. Because of haphazard mining without any technical know how by the local people recovery of large size crystals is very poor. Beryl is a source of beryllium. Beryl/ Aquamarine crystals are cut and used as gem. DMG has issued 2 prospecting licenses for aquamarine.

(c) Garnets are recovered from strongly tectonized lenses and pods of chlorite-biotite- garnet schist within high-grade metamorphic rock sequence mainly in the Higher Himalayan region. Deep red or red coloured almandine, hessonite and pyrope garnet are mined mainly in Sankhuwasabha and Taplejung districts. Only selected pieces are cut for gem and the rest are used to make beads and abrasive power. Small-scale garnet mines were in operation since last few decades in Budhekhani, Bhote Khola, Hanglaung, Khining, Sunamla, Swachi Khani in Sankhuwasabha district. But none of them are in operation at present. At present only one prospecting license has been issued by DMG.

 

(d) Kyanites are known mainly from Dolakha, Sankhusabha, Taplejung, Rasuwa, Dhadhing and Jajarkot Achham districts. Four small-scale kyanite mines are in operation in Daha and Suneri in Jajarkot and Barah of Aachham districts. Elongated tabular inky blue kyanite crystals are cut for gems. They are also used to manufacture spark plugs and other high refractory porcelains. DMG has issued 15 prospecting license and 4 mining license of Kyanite.


(e) Rubies and Sapphire: Gem quality but generally small crystal of light red to red ruby and light to dark blue coloured sapphire are known from in Chumar, Ruyil (Dhadhing) and Lari/ Ganesh Himal (Rasuwa). They occur in highly tectonized intensely folded en-echelon lenses of sacchoroidal dolomite within the high-grade metamorphic rocks close to MCT. Mining of these gemstones is difficult because of isolated locations, at high altitude, rugged topography, difficult terrain and harsh weather conditions. Rubies from this area are famous. Himalayan Gems did some mining during 1985.
(f) Quartz Crystals (Rock Crystal): Two small-scale quartz crystals mines are in operation from pegmatites in Khejemi/ Sirku (Taplejung) and Raluka (Nuwakot). Quartz crystals are also known from different parts of Jajarkot, Dailekh, Dhadhing, Rasuwa, Nuwakot, Sakhuwasabha, Ilam and Taplejung districts. Only coloured verities e.g. mainly amethyst, citrine and smoky quartz are cut for gems. High-grade quartz (SiO2 >99%) is used for ferrosilicon production. Industrial application of quartz is in foundry, still mill, chemicals, refractory, fillers, glass factory, sandblast, abrasive etc. Perfect pure, clear quartz crystals without any cracks and inclusions are used in optical apparatus and to control the frequency of radio circuits.

5.2.3 Decorative and Dimension Stones

(a) Marble: Various coloured Marbles are used as decorative stones in the form of blocks and slabs. Pink, gray and white coloured marble deposit (1.63 million ton) is located in Godavari, Lalitpur district. Based on this deposit Godavari marble industries (Pvt.) Ltd. is established. Its annual production capacity is about 80,000m2 polished marble slabs. It is producing about 50,000m2 to 70,000m2 polished marble slabs and some crazy marble, chips and aggregate as bi-products. Good quality marble from this quarry is also exported to India and Bangladesh. Based on Anekot (Kavre) marble deposit Everest marble and allied industry is in operation. But the quality of this marble is not as good as Godavari marble. Recently Nawadurga Marble Industry Pvt. Ltd is developing marble quarry in Chhatre Deurali in Dhadhing district. Marble deposits are also known from Bhainse and Sukaura in Makwanpur. Three mining licenses and three prospecting licenses have been issued by DMG for marble.


(b) Granites are known from, Makwanpur (Palung and Ipa),  Sindhuli, Udaypur, Dadeldhura in the Lesser Himalaya. Course grained, massive granites are used as decorative and dimension stones. They are good for external decoration since they are much stable than marbles. Granites are also known from the Higher Himalayan and Inner Himalayan (Tethys) region (Map-1). DMG has done some evaluation work of Palung granite at different places. Only two prospecting licenses for granite has issued by DMG.

(c) Quartzite is a hard metamorphic rock which consists of mainly quartz. It is a common rock and abundantly known from Taplejung, Ilam, Dhankuta, Ramechhap, Sindhupalchok, Makwanpur, Dhadhing, Tanahun, Kaski, Syangja, Parbat, Baglung, Achham, Doti, Bajhang, Bajura, Dadeldhura, Baitadi, Darchula and few other districts. It is mainly used as dimension stones, flagstone for paving purpose and as construction materials. Quartzite extremely rich in silica can also be used to manufacture glass. Twenty prospecting license and only one mining license has issued by DMG.

(d) Slate is the common roofing and pavement material that is extensively mined from different parts of Dhankuta, Sindhupalchok, Ramechhap, Nuwakot, Sindhupalchok, Dhadhing, Tanahun, Baglung, Syangja, Palpa,Parbat, Jajarkot, Achham, Doti, Dadeldhura, Baitadi, Bajhang, Bajura and many other districts since historic time.

5.2.4 Construction Minerals (Materials)
Rocks are the main construction materials since the Stone Age. Some of the rocks like marble, basalt, granite and red sandstones are used in decoration; phyllite, slates, flaggy quartzite and schist are used for roofing; limestone, dolomite, quartzite, sandstone are used for aggregate in various construction works, road paving and flooring. Vast quantities of river boulders, cobbles, pebbles and sands are mined as construction materials/ aggregates. DMG (Y.P. Sharma et al 1988) has evaluated such materials (Boulders=347,006,000m3, Cobbles=214,261,000m3 and Pebbles=229,205,000m3) in the Major Rivers of Terai region. District Development Committees (DDCs) are the local authorities who give the licenses to the highest bidders to operate quarries on the riverbeds in annual basis. Vast amount of such construction materials are available in many districts for local use. Voluminous quantity of such gravel materials goes to India every .

5.3 Fuel Minerals
(a) Coal: In Nepal medium to low grade coal occurrences/ deposits are known in four stratigraphic positions e.g. (i) Quaternary lignite (ii) Siwalik coal (iii) Eocene Coal and (iv) Gondwana coal. Peat/ lignite in Kathmandu valley is mined and used mainly in brick burning. Siwalik coal is not economically attractive because of scattered small lenses. Eocene Coal occurs as irregular seams confined to orthoquartzite in Tosh, Siuja, Azimara and Abidhara in Dang, Sallyan, Rolpa, Pyuthan and Palpa districts. Small scale 20 coal mines are in operation in these districts. In addition to that 49 prospecting license are also issued by DMG. Gondwana Coal encountered in Kokaha Khola/ Barahakshetra and Kampughat areas are not up to the suitable grade. Present Coal production in Nepal is insignificantly small (150 - 250mt/ day). These coals are not anthracite so they cannot be used in many industries. However, Eocene coal is good for household and brick burning purposes.
(b) Petroleum and Natural Gas: A number of Oil and Natural gas seeps are recoded in a stretch of about 14km in Padukasthan, Sirsethan and Navisthan area in Dailekh and only gas seeps in Muktinath in Mustang. GON/DMG/ Petroleum Exploration Promotion Project (PEPP) are giving high priority to explore and promote petroleum exploration in Nepal since 1982. DMG/ PEPP were able to identify 10 prospective blocks in the southern parts of the country (Fig.5). Shell Company of Netherlands conducted exploration in Block no.10 in eastern Nepal. It has drilled a well up to 3520m deep but the hole appeared dry. Since last few years Texana Resources Company of USA and Cairn Energy PLC of UK have initiated the exploration works in Block no 3 & 5; and 1, 2, 4, 6 & 7 respectively. The possibility of finding oil in some of these blocks appears fairly high. Extensive exploration activities are warranted to confirm the oil and natural gas pools in the country.  
Shell, Netherlands drilled in block-10
 
Fig.5: Prospecting Blocks for Petroleum Exploration

(c) Methane gas deposit in Kathmandu Valley is known since long time. They are dissolved in water type biogenic gas (methane). DMG explored this gas in 26 sq. km area in Kathmandu valley by exploration drilling of over 14 drill holes up to 570m depth and proved 310 million cubic meter methane gas deposit. The gas occurs at different depth from 120m to 300m. Its average calorific value is 7200kcal/m3. A model gas plant is set in Tripureshor/ Teku. Feasibility study has confirmed that the gas can be used for industrial and household purpose and the reserve is sufficient to supply gas to 21,000 families for about 3o years. Since regular cleaning and maintenance of gas wells is not done timely the gas flow in most wells are stopped now. The GON/ DMG is inviting for potential investors to come forward with the suitable proposal to develop the gas wells and commercialize this gas deposit for the benefit of the people.

(d) Geothermal Hot Springs: During preliminary study 23 geothermal hot springs were identified and most of them are found to be associated with Main Central Thrust (MCT) and confined to the river banks e.g. in Mahakali, Karnali, Tila, Kaligandaki, Myagdi Khola, Marshyangdi, Trishuli, Bhotekoshi Rivers, Kodari. The temperature of the hot spring water ranges from 40o to 115oC. It can be utilized for heating, drying fruits, hot water bath to heal skin disease and if the temperature is higher up to 150oC it can also be used for electricity generation.

(e) Radioactive Minerals like uranium are known from Sindhuli, Makwanpur, Kathmandu and Baitadi districts. There is a high possibility to find such minerals in the granitic terrain (granite, gneiss and pegmatite) in Higher and Lesser Himalayan region as well as from the Siwalik sandstone. Uranium is a major source of fuel for the production of Nuclear Energy. If GON keeps keen interest and gives high priority to generate Nuclear energy then the potential areas should be well explored and known prospects/ deposits should be evaluated in detail to confirm their tonnage and grade and then feasibility study for nuclear power generation.

6. Investment Opportunity in Mineral and Mining Sectors

There are ample opportunities for the investors to invest in the commercially viable mineral commodities that deserve investment. Some of the proved economic mineral deposits have been developed and are being used in industries like cement, industrial lime, agriculture lime, dead burnt magnesite, talk (in paper, soap) and marble industries. Some small-scale industries are using local limestone, dolomite, quartz, talc, clay, coal, peat, precious and semiprecious stones, brine water (salt) etc. There is a high demand of construction materials such as aggregate, dimension stones, paving stones, slates, boulders, gravel and sand. Investment in these resources is highly rewarding.

7. Major Constraint and Possible Solutions in Mineral Resources Development

There is contradiction in some clauses of the Mines and Mineral Act and Regulation, Forest Act and Regulation and Local Governance Act and Regulation, and complex tax system and no tax holidays, subsidy on export or import etc. which are the other constraint for the investment in this sector. It is very difficult to get permission for mining of any mineral commodities in the forest area from Department of Forest. In the name of environment so called environmentalists also create unnecessary problems time and again. Once mining activities start natural environment will be damaged slightly but it is necessary to compromise by exploiting the resources of the country with minimum damage and immediate rehabilitation of the mined area. 

Many known mineral resources in the Lesser Himalaya and Sub Himalaya are still unexploited because of lack of infrastructures like road approach, electricity, communication, water supply etc. The potential investors are less interested since mineral exploration, mine development and establishment of a mineral based industry normally requires
large investment, sound technical know how, well equipped geo-scientific laboratory, and long lead time. There is high risk, uncertainty and long return period.  

It is little known about the Geology and Mineral resources of Higher Himalayan region because of difficult terrain, rugged topography, harsh climatic condition, poor accessibility and almost nonexistence of infrastructures. So far except some geological information of different parts of Higher Himalaya and very few explored areas like Ganesh Himal lead/ Zinc deposit and few Ruby, Sapphire, Quartz crystal, Beryl, Feldspar etc. not much information exist till to day. Therefore, Geological investigations and mineral exploration activities in the unexplored but very potential Higher Himalayan region should get priority for mineral exploration to find out the new potential prospects/ deposits.

To attract private investors to invest in mineral resources development sector the government should develop infrastructures in the mineral deposit sites at the earliest and also provide some facilities in tax system like tax holidays, subsidy on export or import etc. at least for limited period. There is a need for liberal policy and Legal reforms (Mines and Mineral Act and Regulation, Forest Act and Regulation and Local Governance Act and Regulation) so that investors could work in a comfortable environment. There should be wide publicity of mineral resources and opportunities for investment in mining and mineral industries.

8. Conclusion and Recommendations

·         There are quite a few known mineral prospects and deposits which seem worth for mining and establish mineral based industries in Nepal. Since the price of metals, industrial minerals, gemstone and fuel minerals are hiking tremendously and accessibility to the deposits is becoming better due to road networks even in the remote areas the possibility for mining of such minerals from the previously identified economic and sub-economic deposits could be feasible now. Therefore, reassessment and evaluation of such deposits and extensive exploration in other new areas is necessary to find new economic deposits.
·         The mines and mineral based industries play major role in the economic development of a country. There are many opportunities to invest especially in precious metals, base metals, cement industries, DBM plant, fertilizer industries, dimension/ decorative stones, construction material mining, coal, petroleum etc.
·         There is a high potentiality for good quality precious and semi precious gemstones like ruby, sapphire, tourmaline, aquamarine, garnet etc. Promotion of gem industries in Nepal is still highly rewarding.
·         The river boulders, gravel and sand in Terai, dimension stones and aggregates from the Sub Himalaya and Lesser Himalaya are the main sources of construction aggregate for the civil construction. There is a high demand of such materials in the fast growing urban areas in Nepal, India and Bangladesh. Therefore, investment in the construction material mining is highly promising for the investors.

·         Further detail investigation of Baitadi phosphorite deposit is warranted to confirm its grade and tonnage and industrial tests of both phosphorite and magnesite to manufacture chemical fertilizer like fused magnesium phosphate, super phosphate etc.

·         The GON should give more facilities to the investors, have an attractive national policy and Mining/ Petroleum Rules and Regulations to attract national and foreign investors to invest in exploration and development of mines and mineral industries as well as international petroleum companies to explore and develop petroleum in Nepal.
·         Time has come to conduct Geological investigations and Mineral exploration activities in the Higher Himalayan region which is prospective for Lead- Zinc, Gold, Uranium, Rare Metals, Base Metals, Gemstones and Marble.

Acknowledgement
The author is thankful to Prof. Dr. S.R. Kafle, Vice Chancellor and Prof. Dr. T.K. Jha, Academician, NAST for giving this opportunity to write this paper and publish in "Natural Resources, Development and Environmentalism in Nepal".
The author would like to express his sincere thanks to Mr. S.P. Mahato, Director General, Department of Mines and Geology for giving permission to make use of all the available literatures/ data in the Department of Mines and Geology and publish the paper. Co-operation of Mr. H. Rahaman Khan, Deputy Director General and Mr. K.D. Jha, Chief Planning & Evaluation Section, DMG during preparation of the paper is highly acknowledged.

References

Bashyal, R.P. (1984): Phosphorite exploration in Nepal: Its present status and future prospect. DMG unpub. report 12p
Basset, A. M. (1978): Nepal Gem tourmaline: Journal of NGS, vol.14 no. 1 & 2, pp31-41.
Chakrabarti, C.K. (2003): Geology and Geochemistry of the Zinc-Lead deposit of Ganesh Himal, Central Nepal Himalaya, Doctoral (Ph.D. Thesis submitted to TU, Kathmandu, Nepal pp149.
Department of Mines and Geology: Achievements and Prospects. Published by DMG in 2000, 28p
Department of Mines and Geology (2004): Mineral Resources of Nepal, Published by Department of Mines and Geology, 154p.
Department of Mines and Geology (2001) Brochure on " Prospects and exploration  opportunities of cement grade limestone in Nepal, DMG Pre'cis No.1 to 7 and DMG Newsletter Vol. 1 to 9.
Einfalt, HC, Kaphle, K.P. and Joshi, P.R. (1995)  Trace elements in Muscovite as a Guide to gem tourmaline bearing pegmatites in Nepal. Journal of Nepal Geol. Soc. vol. 11, pp 141-158.
Geology and Mineral Resources of Nepal (1993); Atlas of Mineral Resources of the ESCAP Region Volume-9 published by UN/ ESCAP in coordination with DMG, MIC&S/ HMG Nepal, 107p
Kaphle, K.P., Joshi, P.R and Khan, H.R. (1996): Placer gold occurrences along the major rivers of Nepal Himalaya and their possible primary sources. Journal of Nepal Geological Society, vol. 13, pp 51-64.
Kaphle, K.P. and Khan, H.R. (2007): Preliminary assessment of polymetallic sulphide deposit in Bering Khola - Sunmai Area, Ilam district, Eastern Nepal. Annual Report of Department of Mines and Geology No.4, pp 1-14.
Kaphle, K.P. and Khan, H.R. (2006) Exploration and assessment of Thoshe iron deposit in Ramechhap district, Central Nepal. Annual Report of Department of Mines and Geology No.3, pp 9-24.
Kaphle, K.P. and Khadka, D.R. (2005): Preliminary follow up gold exploration along Kaligandaki Valley in some parts of Myagdi, Parbat and Baglung districts, Western Nepal. Annual Report of Department of Mines and Geology No.2, pp 6-15.
Kaphle, K.P. and Khan, H.R. (2000): Ground radiometric survey and prospection of Radioactive minerals in Nepal and its findings. Bull. of NGS vol.20, pp-63-66.
Kaphle, K.P. and Khan, H.R. (1993): Reconnaissance and preliminary follow up investigation of gold, uranium and base metals in Chamliya River and its catchment area in Baitadi and Darchula districts Farwestern Nepal. DMG un published report
Kaphle, K.P. (1997): Preset status of Phosphorite prospects/ deposits in Nepal, Bulletin of Nepal Geol. Soc. vol. 14, pp67-68
Kaphle, K.P (2064BS): Mineral resources of Nepal and investment opportunity in mining and mineral based industries. Arthik Mimamsa, Naya Nepal Bisheshank, NBSKS, Nepal Rastra Bank, Kathmandu.pp65-77.
Kaphle, K.P (2006): Industrial mineral deposits and investment opportunities in Nepal. The Nepalese Journal of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, Vol.1 No.2, pp55-67.
Kaphle, K.P (1997): The Bamangaon polymetallic prospect, Dadeldhura district, Farwestern Nepal: A case study. Proceedings of South Asia Geological Congress-II, published by Geological Survey and Mines Bureau, Srilanka pp245-262.
Kaphle, K.P. and Pradhananga U.B. (1985): Geological report on preliminary investigations on phosphorite in some parts of Dang, Sallyan, Rolpa and Pyuthan districts, Rapti Zone, Nepal. DMG unpub. report. 34p
Kaphle, K.P.(1979): Compiled geological report on phosphatic rocks occurring in the vicinity of Main Boundary Thrust from Mechi to Mahakali area, Nepal. DMG unpub. report.  22p
Khan, H.R. (2003): Semidetail follow up gold exploration in Gorang, Bangabagar and Lali Gad areas of Baitadi and Darchula district, Farwestern Nepal. Annual Report of DMG, No.1, pp 68-71.
Khan, H.R. (2005): Reconnaissance geochemical survey for base metals and gold in some parts of Bajhang, and Bajura districts, Farwestern Nepal. Annual Report of DMG, No.2, pp16-23
Khan, H.R. (2006): Follow up geochemical exploration for base metals in Bauli Gad, Kucha, Dil Gad, Sain Gad/ Tamatoli and Sheri areas, Bajhang district, Farwestern Nepal. Annual Report of DMG, No.6,  p25-31.
Sharma, Y.P, Mahato, S.P. and Maharjan, S.R. (1988): Report on evaluation of river gravels of Terai region of Nepal, DMG unpub. Report 15p.
Talalov, V.A. 1972): Geology and ores of Nepal. Vol.4, Nepal Geological Survey unpub. Report, 483p.
Tamrakar, S.M (1990): Status of Gem industry of Nepal. A country paper presented for the training course on gemstones, Jaipur, India. Organized by ESCAP. DMG unpub. Report. 18P.
UNDP Mineral Exploration Nepal (1981): Technical Report Mineral Exploration results in a part of Nepal.DP/UN/NEP-73-019/2

5 comments:

  1. Sir, i was wondering if you have some reports on ILLEGAL MINING IN NEPAL; as the case of ganesh himal 1994, kyanite smuggling from nepal, and other cross border smuggling of nepali minerals. Nepal has high potential to generate income through gemstones and other valuable minerals, but has been effected by illegal mining, smuggling and high profile corruptions. i am writing a research paper on it but could find no references. hoope you can help. thankyou.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sir, while exploring dhading district recently in 2012 we passes by lots of illegal mining of rarely found gemstones like quartz and ruby. Sir, is this illegal mining is known to government of Nepal? are there any solution to stop the misuse of these placer deposits?

    thankyou

    ReplyDelete
  3. sir , few moths ago i had read an article on a monthly newspaper that a large amount of uranium possibility is found in some part of nepal. some places have uranium in an open area some areas have to be extracted.but indian contractor is carrying that uranium containing soil for their road construction but also was known that the uranium containing soil is brought to mumbai's atomic inn for their extraction.is it correct news ? if yes than why dont the nepal government take any action for this illegal soil transporting ?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sir, I have got an opportunity to attend one of your guest lecture in TU which I found very beneficial. Those topics are very useful for the Lok Sewa Examinations in Geology Group. There is increasing no. of students in TU now a days but still lacking a motivating book. So, why don't you write a book dedicated for such examinations.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Though I am not a Geology student but I studied Geography till +2 standard so have some interest in the mineral deposit of Nepal, I too heard some information about Uranium deposit in the Makwanpur District. The Government of Nepal should give a serious thought on this mineral or if gone to a wrong hands could be a great harm to mankind and great loss to the nation as well.

    ReplyDelete