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NMDC spends ₹900 crore to increase iron ore production from Kumaraswamy mines

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NMDC Ltd will spend nearly Rs 900 crore in next two to three years to ramp up iron ore production from seven million tonnes per annum (MTPA) to 10 million tonnes, from the Kumaraswamy mines in Karnataka.

An expert review committee led by the Minister of Environment and Forests has given the go-ahead for environmental clearance at a November 9-11 meeting, which would allow NMDC to increase production and make the EC valid until 2042, sources at the company said.

In August, the Supreme Court raised the cap on iron ore mining from 28 MMT (million metric tons) to 35 MMT for Ballari district, and from 7 MMT to 15 MMT for Chitradurga and Tumkur districts of Karnataka.

The Kumaraswamy Mines are located in Ballari District.

“NMDC has EC for 7 MTPA and also produces 7 million tons. On November 10, the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) advised the company to go from 7 MTPA to 10 MTPA. A crushing, screening and loading installation will be installed on the site. A capex of Rs 898 crore will be spent on all these works over a period of two to three years,” sources told PTI.

Since the EAC has already recommended the project, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change is expected to issue the EC next month, sources added.

A public hearing was held on March 22 at the Kumaraswamy Iron ore Mine Project site. The proposal was previously considered at the 52nd EAC (non-coal mining) meeting held June 14-15, 2022, during which the EAC postponed the proposal due to lack of required information.

The project submitter must submit the revised mining plan approved by the IBM for the limited mining operations in an area of ​​477.49 hectares (revenue land: 152.79 hectares and diverted forest area: 324.70 hectares) of the total mining lease area of ​​639.80 ha, EAC said the minutes of the meeting.

NMDC targets production of 46 MTPA of iron ore in FY23. This volume is 10 percent higher than what the PSE produced in FY22 and would provide a buffer against potential price pressure, the miner had previously said.

The lease for the Kumaraswamy mine was extended for another 20 years by the Government of Karnataka in June 2022, ending a period of uncertainty.

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