The mining department of Jammu and Kashmir has finalised a strategy for detailed and scientific exploration of world-famous sapphire from the mines of Paddar in Kishtwar district.
On Tuesday, mining secretary Amit Sharma chaired a high-level meeting wherein a pointed strategy was finalised for conduct of detailed exploration study of the sapphire in Paddar area.
Apart from experts of the mining department, Geology and Mining director OP Bhagat, mining additional secretary Arun Kishore Kotwal, Geological Survey of India (GSI) J&K director Ajay Kumar, Mineral Exploration and Consultancy Limited (MECL) general manager P Ravindran, J&K Minerals Limited MD Vikram K Gupta and geologists attended the meeting.
The GSI team made a powerpoint presentation before the mining secretary about the exploratory studies conducted by them in the past two to three three years in Khan area of Paddar regarding presence of sapphire and ruby like precious gems in different adits, mostly in corundum form. The team also deliberated upon the way forward.
Later, a MECL team made a presentation on the detailed exploration plans of the mines. MECL, it may be stated, has been assigned the task of conducting detailed exploration.
“We expect them to start the work in June purely on scientific lines,” said the mining secretary.
Sharma also disclosed that different steering committees at the policy-level and the execution level shall be created by the government so as to ensure hassle-free completion of this project in a time-bound manner before the end of this working season itself.
“Detailed timelines shall be shared by MECL, the adherence of which shall be reviewed on a weekly basis by the government,” he said.
Sharma also advised Kishtwar deputy commissioner Devansh Yadav to ensure full support to the working group led by the Geology and Mining director for the upcoming exploration of the mines through National Minerals Exploration Trust (NMET) funding on scientific lines.
“The visiting officers of MECL assured that they will use best machinery and experienced work force to make this operation a huge success,” said Sharma.
He also advised MD, JKML, to share all past experiences which they gained while exploring and mining sapphire in Paddar during the last few years so that MECL exploration goes-on smoothly and they can improvise upon same by using latest methodologies, drone surveillance and similar techniques for achieving multiple success in the challenging limited time exploration period of the summer months in the identified areas.
On May 17, 2013, a 19.88 carat cushion-shaped sapphire from Paddar, called Star of Kashmir, had smashed all records after it was sold for $3,483,017 (nearly ₹20 crore) at an auction in Geneva.
The J&K government till now has not only been unable to tap the mines fully due to inadequate technical knowhow but has also been losing precious and rare gemstones to smugglers.
In 2008, the JKML had got ₹1.32 crore in an auction of 11.5 kg of sapphire corundum.
Located at an altitude of 4,742 metres above sea level, a 116-km stretch in the valley is estimated to have a reserve of sapphire worth ₹10,000 crore.
With intense velvet peacock blue colour sapphire found in Paddar mines is considered finest in the world.