KOLKATA (miningweekly.com) – India’s largest iron-ore miner, government-owned NMDC, has sought new mining leases from Odisha to help it produce 45-million tons in 2018/19, up from the expected 35-million tons by the end of March 31 this year.
NMDC has proposed that the Odisha government issue it new mining leases from among the seven operational mines which closed down earlier this month.
The seven iron-ore mines with an estimated production capacity of 20-million tons a year failed to pay up the Supreme Court-ordered penalty for violations of mining laws by the deadline of December 31, 2017, forcing the local government to close down existing operations, local government officials said.
NMDC officials said that the miner was keen to extend its operations in eastern India, from its predominant presence in the central province of Chhattisgarh and in line with its long-term objective of ramping up iron-ore production to 67-million tons a year by 2022 and further to 100-million tons a year by 2030.
They said that the federal Ministry of Mines, seeking to push for higher production by NMDC, had also recommended issuing new mining leases by the Odisha government from among leases currently held by Odisha Mineral Development Corporation – the mining arm of the local government.
NMDC for its part, apart from reviving operations of the closed mines, was also willing to commit additional downstream value addition investments to construct pelletisation and beneficiation plants at suitable locations in proximity to the mines it proposed to operate, the officials added.
Last month, Steel Minister Chaudhary Birendra Singh reviewing operations of NMDC, directed it to frame a long-term strategic growth plan if production growth was to be achieved on a sustainable basis.
“As one of the largest producers of iron-ore, the onus is on NMDC to keep increasing production for the twin benefit of keeping prices in check and providing equitable supplies to both small and large consumers of the raw material,” Singh said.
“And, to achieve higher production, there is a need for a visible incremental increase in production over consecutive years and for this NMDC needs to have a vision and strategic long term plan,” he added.