NMDC has chalked out projects worth over Rs. 24,000 crore over the next five years. It is planning to expand its iron ore mining capacity to 51 million tonnes from 27 million tonnes now, besides setting up steel, pellet and iron ore nugget plants and beneficiation facilities. A Rs. 3,000-crore spend on a new pipeline to replace the one which was damaged by Maoists blasts in 2009 is also on the cards. Chairman Rana Som told reporters that the cost of a proposed 2-million tonne steel plant in Karnataka was yet to be worked out. He said that NMDC was in talks with Japanese companies for technology.

Mr. Som, who earlier addressed the members of the Merchants Chamber of Commerce here, said that talks were also being held with Arcelor Mittal for joint projects. Asked to react to reports of investing in an iron ore project in Senegal with the Mittals, he said that the MoUs with Arcelor and Tata Steel were working well but they were yet to produce results which he could announce. He said that NMDC was scouting for mines in Africa and Australia.

Earlier at the meeting, Mr. Som said that there was a need for curbing iron ore exports in the national interest. He struck a note of caution saying that the projected output of 200 million tonnes of steel production by India would need an iron ore feed of 320 million tonnes.

Pointing out that mining is serious business he said that there had to be a conducive mines and minerals policy, with benefits of mining accruing to the State and not the lessees. He was referring to rampant illegal mining. He also felt that the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill did not address the issue of conservation of resources as it should have.

“There is a case for reservation of mineral assets for large PSUs which can bring the best technology and protect the country's resources.”

Keywords: iron ore mining

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