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Experts divided over Tata's handling of mines

Satyasundar Barik

Tata group started mining before Independence, says report


It has more than 400 million tonnes of mineable iron ore reserves

The most precious reserve of the Tata Steel is Joda East


BHUBANESWAR: Indian steel major Tata Steel, which is struggling to set up its first ever steel plant in the State , has already more than 400 million tonnes of mineable iron ore reserves in its possession.

According to the report of committee that studied applications submitted by Tata Steel for renewal of mines, the company possessed four iron ore reserves in Keonjhar district having total reserve of 638 million tonnes, of which 446 million tonnes could be mined.

The most precious reserve of the Tata Steel is Joda East, which has a proven 156 mt of mineable reserves followed by Khandbond with 150.5 mt, Katamati (86.8 mt) and Joda West (52.4 mt). The report of the committee was tabled in the State Assembly on Wednesday.

It is often alleged that the domestic steel major is not serious about adding value to minerals the company is sourcing from the State. The Tata Group had started mining in Orissa before the independence.

Besides, massive iron ore reserves, the geological resources in the lease hold mines of Tata Steel include chromite and pyorxenite, manganese and dolomite. However, the company is yet to complete detail exploration of the unexplored area granted to it.

The minutes of discussion of the committee, however, revealed that experts were sharply divided over Tata Steel's handling of mines.

Then director of mines, R.N.Sahoo, who was member of committee, accused the company of manipulating figures with a motive to show lower quantum of reserves as regards to Katamati leasehold.

“The updated proved reserves as on April 1, 2002 were 115.94 million tonnes. Subsequently in the modified mining plan the proved reserves is shown as 121.09 million tonnes as on April 1, 2006 and this proved reserve is further changed to 81.957 mt in the said mining plan,” Mr. Sahoo commented on observation of the committee.

He said, “in the subsequent submission on May 11, 2009, the said provided reserve is again shown as 61.5 mt as on April 1, 2008. Looking at the rate of depletion of iron ore from the area, these reductions in the quantum of proved reserves from 121 mt to 61 mt appears filmsy and not acceptable.”

“Similarly, the iron ore reserves in respect of Joda-east iron ore mines for category II and category III are 24.99 mt and 82 mt respectively, which have been computed on basis of bulk density of 3, whereas the iron ore being of very high grade ad a major part being hard ore the bulk density should have been taken as 4 instead of 3. Thus the total resources of the mine will be of higher order than the projected figure,” then director of mines said in his observations.

However, his views were strongly opposed by regional controller of Indian Bureau of Mines S. Tui. The IBM's regional charged that director of mines was misleading the committee.

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