January 14: The government is preparing to set up a processing unit in Surkhet within six months to extract precious stones and give them finishing touches with the objective of exporting them.
The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies confirmed that the processing unit will come into operation soon and will be involved in cutting and polishing stones.
The setting up of infrastructure for the processing unit at the former head office of the Cottage and Small Scale Industries Development Committee is in the final stage, the ministry said.
Cutting, polishing and drilling of precious stones are still taking place but in small scale, says Shambhu Prasad Poudel, director at the Industry and Consumer Protection Directorate.
According to Poudel, 12 workers can operate the cutting, polishing and drilling machines in one shift.
“A small scale gem processing centre was developed in Surkhet more than a decade ago. It has been operating since 2008,” said Poudel.
“The centre identifies valuable stones and metals in Karnali Province and processes them in Surkhet,” he added.
Poudel added that they have been providing training in this craft every year to hundreds of youths.
Out of 800 valuable materials identified across the world, eight are found in Nepal.
Kainite, tourmaline, quartz, aqua marine, and granite are some of the precious stones found in Nepal.
Poudel claimed that the Himalayan region of Karnali Province is an ideal place for extraction of precious stones. He said that the government has decided to hand over the extraction of stones to the private sector.
The government’s announcement of processing and exporting of precious stones in the policies and programmes of the current fiscal year has raised hopes of reopening the mines that have remained closed since years.