New Delhi, Nov. 8: A herd of elephants is set to cost Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) a large chunk of iron ore reserves in an Odisha mine.
SAIL’s Bolani iron ore mine in the state meets 20 per cent of its ore requirement, but a proposed elephant corridor in the region will put more than a quarter of the reserves out of bounds.
The Odisha government has written to the Union environment ministry on reducing the 1,300-hectare mining area by around 300 hectares for the corridor. Elephant corridors are narrow strips of land that allow the pachyderms to move from one habitat patch to another.
Bolani, which took off in 1960, produces about 4.2 million tonnes of iron ore a year, most of which is used by the Rourkela steel plant. The Bokaro and Bhilai units also use this ore.
Officials in the environment ministry said the Bolani region had large elephant herds, and environmentalists had been arguing that mining had hurt their habitat. Odisha has around 1,900 elephants, comprising about 27 per cent of the country’s elephant population. The state proposes to set up around 14 corridors spread over 870 square kilometers for elephants, whose habitat has been shrinking because of mining and deforestation.
SAIL’s ore production has already been hit after delays in environmental clearances halted work at the Gua mines, which used to supply 2.4 million tonnes of high-grade ore every year. “Gua is shut down for some time,” a SAIL spokesperson said but could not confirm the demand of the Odisha government for an elephant corridor.
SAIL mainly depends on its Kiriburu and Meghataburu mines with the two together supplying about 8.5 million tonnes. Smaller mines at Barsua, Kalta and Manoharpur together provide another 3 million tonnes.
SAIL today reported a 12 per cent rise in net profit for the second quarter ended September 30, 2012.
The PSU steel maker recorded a profit after tax of Rs 543 crore during July-September against Rs 485 crore in the same period last year. Sales stood at Rs 11,976 crore. In terms of volumes, the company sold 2.62 million tonnes of steel.
SAIL chairman C.S. Verma attributed the decrease in volume sales to a subdued market. “Sales are expected to go up during the current festival season,” he said.