TASHKENT, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- Uzbekistan will start handing out licenses permitting private businesses to mine precious metals starting from March 1 in a bid to raise gold production and fight against illegal mining, according to a government decree published on Wednesday.
The State Committee for Geology and Mineral Resources will issue licenses for the right to use subsoil plots, which will not exceed one hectare, for mining precious metals for a period of three years.
Licenses can be obtained both by individual entrepreneurs and legal entities at the auction and the starting price is expected to be 7.5 million Uzbek soms (900 U.S. dollars).
The cabinet of ministers, based on proposals by the state committee, will approve annually the list of sites permitted for alluvial mining.
Last year, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed a decree on measures to create conditions for the implementation of prospecting mining of precious metals which paved the way for legalizing illegal gold digging.
Illegal gold mining in the Central Asian country involves some 10,000 people in a season and produces around 1 ton of gold per year, according to government newspaper Khalq Suzi. Enditem