A SAIL-owned mine in West Singhbhum. Telegraph picture
Jamshedpur, Sept. 2: The iron ore mine of Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) at Gua in West Singhbhum, which had to be closed last year for want of clearances, will reopen next month.
According to officials of SAIL, an environmental clearance from the forest department had come in the way of mining activities at the Gua mine, leading the management to suspend operations since June 15, 2011.
“But following concerted efforts, the management has almost secured the clearance. Mining will resume once again sometime in October,” said an official.
SAIL general manager (Gua mine) Dilip Bhargava said the firm needed forest as well as environment clearances from the Government of India.
“We have already got the forest clearance. And the process of obtaining the environment clearance is expected to be over within a month’s time,” he said.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Bhargava informed that beside re-opening the mine, the company would also target enhancing its capacity of production.
“We have already taken steps to enhance the capacity from 2.4 million tonnes to 10 million tonnes per year for the next three years. For enhancing production capacity, we are inducting new equipment and also planning to set up a pellet-manufacturing plant at Gua, for which we have begun the tender process,” said the general manager.
Bhargava said that SAIL would set up a pellet-manufacturing unit at Gua having a production capacity of 4 million tonnes. He added that the pellets would be made out of iron ore fines generated from the mine area.
The senior SAIL executive said that the firm used to supply iron ore to other iron and steel companies. A substantial portion of iron ore fines is left unused in the mine.
“Over the decades of mining, a lot of fines have piled up. By using the latest technology, we can make pellets out of the fines in the sinter plant. Therefore, we have taken the decision to set up the pellet manufacturing unit here,” said Bhargava.
He said that SAIL would spend about Rs 3,000 crore to set up the plant and bids would be floated sometime in December.
He informed that besides setting up the pellet manufacturing plant, the company would also increase the production of iron ore lumps by an additional 2 million tonnes. Bhargava said that it would take three years for achieving the goal of enhanced production.
Located close to the Saranda forest in West Singhbhum, the Gua mine initially belonged to Indian Iron & Steel Company (IISCO).
In 1919, iron ore extraction was begun at the Gua mine by IISCO.
In 1956, the mine was turned into a mechanised unit, the first ever in the country. Eventually, it was merged with SAIL in 1985, following which Gua mine started catering to the iron ore needs of various companies functioning under SAIL.
According to sources, the mine management decided to suspend operations in June last year after the central government sought forest and environment clearances from SAIL.
Notably, the mine has altogether 550 employees and 450 contract workers, who have been sitting idle ever since its closure last year.