The lease deed for the Panchpatmali mine in Koraput, Odisa, expired on Saturday
National Aluminum Company Ltd. (Nalco) has suspended operations at its Panchpatmali mine in Koraput, Odisha after its lease deed for the area expired on Saturday. The company now requires a temporary work permit (TWP) to extract the bauxite ore required for its alumina refinery in the same district.
This period, the company said, would be utilised for pursuing renewal of mining lease with both the State government and the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).
Addressing a press conference here on Monday, Nalco Chairman-cum-Managing Director Ansuman Das said: “We are hopeful of getting the TWP by November-end. Till that time, we have enough stock to run our alumina refinery at Damanjodi in Koraput district.”
“We started the process of renewing our mining lease in October 2010. But due to delays that occurred at various levels, the efforts to renew the lease could not materialise in time. In February, we sought TWP to continue mining activities. But the State government forwarded our application on October 26,” Mr. Das said.
For TWP, consent of the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) is a must. The FAC was to meet on October 30, but with that cancelled, it is next scheduled to meet on November 26. “Union Minister of Mines Dinsha Patel has taken up the matter with Environment and Forest Minister Jayanti Natarajan. I have also met Ms. Natarajan,” he said.
Anticipating the worst, Nalco had stepped up ore extraction and moved around 2.5 lakh tonnes to the alumina refinery, which would help in operating the refinery for the next two to three weeks.
In the event of not getting the go-ahead in the next FAC, Nalco would then move the ministry.
The company was optimistic of meeting its export commitments. “We have two shipments of export commitment in this month. We will be able to fulfil it. If the situation persists, future export commitments could be rescheduled,” Mr. Das said.
Of Nalco’s 4,692 hectares of bauxite reserve area, the company has already surrendered 1288 hectares of land. The company would further surrender another patch of 2,087 hectare of land as they are not required, Das said.
Of the three blocks— south, north and central of Panchpatmali hills Nalco uses only north and central blocks while south block is kept for future use. “We will use the south block after 2019,” Das said adding that the company has meanwhile applied for another bauxite mine at Potangi in Koraput district having a reserve of 70 million tonne minerals.