May 26: The announcement of processing and exporting of precious stones in the policies and programmes of the government has raised hope of reopening of the mines that have remained closed since four years.
The ban on export of precious stones by the government in July 2014 had resulted in the closure of 29 companies that had been supplying stones overseas. The government had imposed the ban arguing that the stones worth millions were sold at scrap value.
The government’s policies and prorammes for the upcoming fiscal year has announced feasibility study for extracting valuables from mines in different parts of the country. The government has stated it will study the possibility of extraction of iron from Dhaubadi of Nawalparasi, valuable gems and copper from Jajarkot, petroleum from Dailekh, iron from Parbat and Tanahun and Uranium from Mustang.
The government plans to process the precious stones by setting up a refinery and intends to export them.
Altogether 29 companies had been extracting kainite, tourmaline and quartz in Nepal before the government imposed a ban in 2014. Kainite is classified as a very valuable stone while tourmaline is a valuable stone and quartz a normal stone. So far, 18 companies have renewed their license to extract the stones while only one company has been running a mine.
A mining company in Jajarkot and Dailekh had extracted 7 kilograms of kainite last year. The stones were utilized by the domestic diamond industry, according to Ramesh Maharjan, chairman of Nepal Gold- Silver and Jewellery Association.
Before the ban was imposed, Nepal had produced 698 kg of tourmaline, 1,187 kg of kainite and 4256 kg of quartz. The same year, the government had collected revenue of Rs 2.1 million from tourmaline, Rs 4,000 from kainite and Rs 86,000 from quartz. In the next fiscal year, the government increased the tax on tourmaline and quartz five times while that of kainite was increased 500 folds. Unable to pay the tax, the companies collapsed.