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Mineral exploration in Mannar continues after short term suspension

Australian company, Titanium Sands Ltd is continuing its heavy mineral sand exploration project in collaboration with its local partner Kilsythe Investments (Pvt) Ltd although the work had been suspended for a short period due to unavoidable circumstances, company officials said.

The local company has dug around 4000 mineral exploration drill holes with 50 mm outside diameter at the site and small samples of sand are being sent for laboratory testing for analysis, they pointed out.

The exploration is being carried out by Sri Lankan workers on daily pay basis of Rs. 3000 per day under the management of Geological Survey and Mines Bureau Technical Services (GSMBTS), Saliya Galagoda, head of country operations of the Kilsythe Investments (Pvt) Ltd said..

The current exploration is being carried out on 1 to 3 km and not in any areas of habitations; he said adding that environment conservation activists and some residents with vested interest were exerting pressure against the project. A massive investment of Rs. 390 million has been made by the Kilsythe Investments with funding from the Australian company, he disclosed.

At a meeting with Environment Ministry officials this week the company has expressed willingness to invest US$1 billion for future mineral mining operations after the completion of exploration process, he said

He noted that the exploration activities to determine the distribution of heavy minerals on the island consist primarily of hand auger and light machinery drilling, both of which have little or no impact on the environment.

These activities are being carried out in areas of no habitation and no formal agricultural development with the consent of Geological Survey and Mines Bureau and environment ministry while access to private land areas has been with landowner permission, he said.

Kilsythe Exploration Pvt. Ltd, Orion Mineral Pvt Ltd and Sanur Mineral Pvt Ltd have obtained five licenses from the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau to carry out mineral exploration activities as a consortium representing Titanium Sands Ltd at different sites in Talaimannar in December last year.

The project is at an early stage and is progressing under exploration licences that were granted on the basis that the proposed exploration activities should not have a detrimental impact on the environment. It has to drill another 500 holes to complete the preliminary stage, Operations Manager Dilruk Galagoda said.

He added that exploration has involved shallow hand auger drilling and light mechanised drilling, both of which have very low to zero environmental impact..

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