Maoists’ power blackout halts mining in southern Chhattisgarh

June 9th, 2008 - 3:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Raipur, June 9 (IANS) The iron ore mining industry in southern Chhattisgarh has come to a halt since Thursday after Maoists cut off power supply in four districts including Dantewada, which has one of the world’s largest iron ore deposits. Mining operations at three deposits of the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) at Bailadila hills in Dantewada have been hit. NMDC, India’s largest iron ore producer and exporter in the public sector, has put the losses incurred by it at Rs.120 million.

Maoists blew up 220 KV high-tension electricity towers in the forests of Dantewada Thursday, plunging the region into darkness. Besides Dantewada, the other districts that don’t have power supply are Bastar, Bijapur and Narayanpur.

NMDC officials say the blackout has completely stopped iron ore excavation work at two fully-mechanised mines at Bailadila, while work is somehow on in the third deposit.

The NMDC produces about 20 million tonnes iron ore per annum from the Bailadila deposits of its total 27 million tonnes annual production.

Essar Steel, which has a iron ore beneficiation plant at Bailadilla hills in Kirandul, has also been hit. Its supply of high quality iron ore to its own pellet plant at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh has suffered heavily.

However, the private sector steel major had installed high-powered generator sets after rebels ransacked its Kirandul unit in April and set fire to over 50 trucks.

A contingent of about 200 engineers and technicians of the Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board (CSEB) reached Barsoor - the site of the blast - late Sunday amid heavy security to begin repair work.

The team got late access to the site as Maoists had laid land mines in the forests leading to it.

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