Even as the India-Australia CEOs Forum met in New Delhi for the first time, global mining giant Rio Tinto announced plans to invest $2 billion (Rs. 10,000 crore) in iron ore and diamond mining projects in Madhya Pradesh and Orissa, one of the biggest foreign direct investments (FDIs) from Australia

Talking to journalists here, Sam Walsh, Chief Executive, Iron Ore and Australia, said the company planned to invest $2 billion in the iron ore mining project to supply Indian and overseas clients. He said it was estimated that the company would touch a production of 15,000 million tonnes per annum in the first phase.

Diamond mining project

The company was also investing in a diamond mining project in Madhya Pradesh in a big way.

The investment would be the largest by any Australian company in India. Total FDI from Australia from April 2000 till December 2011 stood at $486.5 million, just 0.3 per cent of the country's total FDI flows. “We will bring the technology and environment safety system. We will obviously be using the local people in the project. This project would be a benchmark for the mining industry in India as far as international standards, safety and technology is concerned,” Mr. Walsh said. Rio Tinto at present has a 51:49 joint venture with Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) for the project, which covers three iron ore deposits — Sakradihi Dubna, Malangtoli and Gandhamardan — with a total reserve of about 3.6 billion tonnes. According to Rio Tinto India's website, the diamond mining project has an inferred resource of 27.4 million carats and the resource has been identified as seven times richer than NMDC's Panna mine (also located in Madhya Pradesh). The project would require an investment of about Rs.2,000 crore.