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10 companies show interest on off-shore mineral deposit exploitation

by Bharatha Malawaraarachchi

Ten international companies including Sri Lanka, have submitted expressions of interests on exploitation of off-shore mineral deposits off Panadura and Bentota. The value of the deposits are estimated over US dollar 330 million.

The deposits consist of Monosite, Ilmanite, Rutile and Zircon and were discovered during a survey conducted by a team of NARA scientists in 1997. The Marine Pollution Prevention Authority(MPPA) called for expressions of interests for exploring these deposits two months ago.

"At the moment, we are evaluating their applications and we have requested more details from these companies," Chairman of the MPPA Dr. Sunil de Silva told the Daily News.

Two Sri Lankan companies are amongst the ten companies which have expressed interest in this connection. The others are two Australian companies and six Indian companies. "A decision of awarding the contract will be taken in mid June," he added.According to the survey, there are 11 recognised heavy mineral deposits in separate patches on the sea bed between Panadura, Kalutara and Bentota.

The survey was sponsored by the United Nations Revolving Funds for Mineral Resources Exploitation. It has been revealed that there are more than 170 million cubic meters of heavy mineral deposits in the top two meters of the sea bed.

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