Story in Pictures

Old is gold

Kolar gold mines get a fresh lease of life, thanks to the Supreme Court’s nod for exploration
RA Chandroo

Twelve years after they were closed down, it’s quite likely that the once-famous Kolar gold mines will be humming with activity once again. The Supreme Court has recently allowed the Centre to float global tenders to revive the Karnataka mines, which host the second-deepest gold deposits in the world. The Kolar Gold Fields (KGF), first taken up for exploration in the 1880s and later nationalised in 1956 by handing it over to state-owned Bharat Gold Mines, was shut down in 2001 after its operations turned uneconomical. By 1998, the reserves came close to exhaustion and the cost of extracting gold exceeded the price of gold by more than 10 times. BGML has since turned into a sick enterprise with losses of more than ₹900 crore. The employees of BGML went to court against the closure in the Karnataka high court, which asked the Centre to explore all possibilities to revive KGF on its own. Finally, the matter travelled to the Supreme Court, which gave the go-ahead for its revival.