The Centre will give its nod soon for granting lease for iron ore mining to Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL), the corporate entity of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant.

“After the Rajasthan government gave its consent to grant mining lease to RINL, the Centre is in the process of giving the green signal,” Union Steel Secretary D.R.S. Chaudhary told The Hindu here on Friday.

1,043 hectare

Along with RINL, Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) is also being granted mining leases in Bhilwara of Rajasthan. While SAIL will get leases in an area of 864.6 hectares, RINL will be granted leases in 1,043 hectares. Both projects are expected to provide direct employment to 2,000 and indirectly to 20,000 people in Rajasthan.

The Rajasthan mines have low-grade magnetic ore. Both the public sector units will need magnetic separation and pellet plants to use the ore as fines for steel production.

Mr. Chaudhary said the leases to explore an estimated 325 million tonne of ore would give the much needed raw material security to RINL to a large extent. RINL is the only public sector steel producer without any captive mines thereby shelling down a heavy amount for raw material sourcing from NMDC and other agencies.

Odisha mines

Referrring to RINL's efforts to have strategic control over Bird Group of Companies (BGC) after it bought 51 per cent stake in Eastern Investments Limited (EIL) in January 2011, he said RINL would shortly get clearance for mining in two important mines in Odisha.

Of the seven subsidiaries of BGC, Orissa Mineral Development Company, Bisra Stone Lime Company (BSLC) and EIL are operational and the remaining four are under liquidation. The group has 200 million tonne of iron ore and rich deposits of manganese, dolomite and limestone. SEBI clearance for exploring two out of six mines owned by the group is expected anytime.

He said in AP, the process of signing a joint venture agreement with AP Mineral Development Corporation and RINL was in advance stage for exploring 15 to 20 million tonne of iron ore in Bayyaram in Khammam district and 60 to 70 million tonne in Obulapuram in Anantapur district.

RINL is a zero debt company which achieved highest ever turnover of Rs.14,457 crore during 2011-12. The Navratna company recently expanded its capacity from 3 million tonne to 6.3 million tonne per annum with an investment of Rs.12,500 crore.