Jharkhand to assess actual iron ore reserves via new survey

August 6th, 2008 - 3:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Ranchi, Aug 6 (IANS) The government of the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand has decided to survey and assess the actual iron ore reserves in the state, a top official told IANS Wednesday. This will be the first such survey in more than two decades. The last such survey was conducted long before the new state of Jharkhand was carved out of undivided Bihar Nov 15, 2000.

The Jharkhand government has over the past few years signed a slew of pacts with steel companies for supply of iron ore. In official parlance, these pacts are referred to as memoranda of understanding (MoUs).

As a result of these agreements, it has become necessary to assess the actual reserves of the ore in the state to meet the rising demand for the mineral from the state’s burgeoning steel industry, the official said.

According to the last survey conducted sometime in the late 1980s, the proven iron ore reserves falling within the present state boundaries were around 3.7 billion tonnes, the official said.

The state, however, needs around 6 billion tonnes of iron ore reserves if it has to allocate iron ore mines to all the steel companies with which it has signed MoUs for ensuring supply of iron ore, the official said.

Jharkhand has signed such MoUs with more than 20 steel companies.

The Chiria mines, having the largest identified good quality iron ore reserves in the state, are in possession of Steel Authority of India (SAIL).

According to sources in the state’s Mines and Geology department, the proven deposits of iron ore in Chiria mines are around 2.4 billion tonnes.

At present, the state government and SAIL are fighting a legal battle with both claiming their right to possess Chiria mines.

The state government and SAIL have, however, agreed to survey the actual deposits of Chiria and find an amicable solution to the dispute.

“We have decided to go for a comprehensive study and survey of iron ore deposits in the state. The demand for iron ore has witnessed a spurt in the last four years. We are hopeful that the exploration of new areas will help the state to meet the rising demand,” the official said.

The survey will be conducted with the help of National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC).

The major steel companies who have signed MoUs with the state government include the world’s largest steel maker Arcelor Mittal as well as several other global and Indian steel majors such as Tata Steel, Jindal Steel and Essar Steel.

Arcelor Mittal wanted 600 million tonnes of iron ore from Chiria mines for a period of 30 years. Owing to legal battles, the government allocated the Karmapada iron ore mines to the company instead. The Karmapada iron ore deposits are, however, unlikely to meet the needs of Arcelor Mittal, the official said.

Even SAIL has plans to set up a 12 million tonne greenfield steel plant in Jharkhand apart from expanding capacity in its existing steel units in the state. SAIL is awaiting the outcome of the legal battle over Chiria mines before finalizing its investment and expansion plans, company officials said.

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