Australian mining company India Resources Ltd. (IRL) is set to enter the Indian coal sector following an agreement entered into with Bankura DRI Ltd., a consortium of six sponge iron manufacturers who have been allocated a coal block in Ranigunj in West Bengal, IRL managing director Arvind Mishra said. An investment of around Rs 100 crores has been earmarked for this venture. The reserves are estimated at 95 million tons, he said. IRL, which is ASX-listed minerals developer, is currently operating in India, mining copper at the Surda mines of Hindustan Copper in Jharkhand where production has touched 37,000 tonnes in a mine which was closed for long.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a seminar during which presentations were made by Indian companies as well as Australian mining companies (as part of the 2010 Mining Exhibition), Mr. Mishra said that since 2007, his company had invested Rs. 130 crore in mining and exploration activities in India.

IRL has applied for licences for new copper mines near Udaipur in Rajasthan, besides applying for 15 exploration licences for iron ore in Orissa and Jharkhand. It has also applied for diamond exploration licences in Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. “We are already involved heavily in exploration activities in lead and zinc”.

On the agreement reached with Bankura DRI, Mr. Mishra said that this would be done on a build-develop and operate project with a concession period of 30 years. The mine allocated by the Union Coal Ministry has a reserve of 95 million tonnes and IRL hopes to produce five lakh tonnes within the third year from now. Most of the regulatory approvals were in place, he said.

However, the company which is into contracting as well as exploratory activities, is frustrated by the slow speed of the Indian system of governance and is more inclined to work with private sector companies now.

More In: Business | Industry