• Reuters

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India, the world’s second-biggest gold consumer, has discovered gold fields with reserves of over 3,000 tons in its most populous northern state, a government official said on Saturday.

India mines between 2-3 tons of gold annually, relying on expensive imports to fulfill nearly all of its demand, which averaged 843 tons per year over the past 10 years.

Its hunger for gold — used extensively in jewelry, as offerings to gods and in lavish weddings — cost India more than $31 billion on imports last year, making the metal its second-biggest import item after crude oil.

Federal and state departments have discovered traces of gold in northern Uttar Pradesh’s Sonbhadra district after surveying the area for more than 10 years, said Roshan Jacob, the head of the mining department in Uttar Pradesh state.

“In Son Pahadi we have found 2,940 tons … in the Hardi Pahadi area 646 kilograms of ore has been traced,” Jacob said, referring to the two areas where gold ore has been discovered.

The state is now seeking forest and environment clearances after which it will open up the reserves for bidding, Jacob said.

The concentration level of gold in the area is about 3 grams per ton of ore and the state is working with the Geological Survey of India to determine how much gold can be extracted from the fields, she added.

India has time and again considered a plan to revive a cluster of colonial-era gold mines in southern Karnataka state but the project has failed to take off due to predictions of low output and high costs involved.

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