The National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) is all set to take its business to the next level. The PSU, the country’s largest iron ore producer, has put in place an ambitious capex plan to spend Rs 7,000 crore over the next three years to upgrade and expand its mining operations and diversify into areas like steel-making. The projects are being executed with the broader objective of attaining iron-ore production capacity of 67 MTPA by FY2022
NMDC produced 35 MT of iron ore in FY18 and 33 MT in FY19 – the suspension of operations at the Donimalai mine in Karnataka in November 2018, affected the company’s output in the last fiscal. To have a production capacity of 300 MT of crude steel by 2030, as the National Steel Policy of 2017 mandates, India would need to produce 450 million tonnes of iron ore a year, making the expansion of mining operations a must.
Of the Rs 7,000-crore capex lined up by NMDC, all in the state of Chhattisgarh, Rs 3,000 crore has been allocated for a slurry pipeline project, Rs 1,500 crore for a third screening plant (SP) at its Kirandul Complex, Rs 500 crore for doubling of the Kothavalasa-Kirandul (KK) line and Rs 2,200 crore for a steel plant at Nagarnar.“Our goal is to expand operations in the areas of mining and mineral processing; achieve international standards in per capita productivity, value addition and cost-effectiveness; ensure forward integration with pellet and steel-making business, and diversify into production of strategic and critical raw materials,” says Baijdender Kumar, CMD. “The capex would be used for infrastructural expansion of existing mines, operationalisation of new mines owned by NMDC or part of a joint venture, and exploration of new reserves of iron ore and other strategic minerals,” he adds.
The public sector major operates three highly mechanised iron ore mine complexes at present. Two of them, the Bailadila Iron Ore Mine, Kirandul Complex and Bailadila Iron Ore Mine, Bacheli Complex, are located in Dantewada in Chhattisgarh, and produce around23 MT of iron ore annually. The third one, the Donimalai Iron Ore Complex in Bellary in Karnataka, produces 12 MT of ore.
As per the long-term vision plan, production capacity in the Bailadila sector is to be increased considerably. To ramp up output at the Kirandul Complex at Bailadila, NMDC is setting up a third screening plant (SP-III) with a capacity of 12 MTPA. The facilities for crushing, stacking and loading would also be upgraded at Kirandul. As higher productivity would necessitate a ramp-up of evacuation capacity from the present 28 MTPA to 40 MTPA, NMDC is implementing a 15-MTPA slurry pipeline project from Bailadila to Nagarnar/Visakhapatnam. The doubling of the Kothavalasa-Kirandul (KK) rail link is also integral to the plan to increase the PSU’s evacuation capacity.
As part of its foray into steel-making, NMDC is setting up a 3-MTPA steel plant at Nagarnar in Chhattisgarh, which is likely to be commissioned by FY20. Use of modern technologies would make it a state-of-the-art unit and the project’s location in a remote area of Chhattisgarh is expected to improve the socio-economic conditions of the local people.