Copper mines lease for HCL

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By AMIT GUPTA in Ranchi
  • Published 1.06.09

Ranchi, May 31: The sleepy towns of Ghatshila and Mosabani in East Singhbhum will soon be abuzz with industrial activities. The state has decided to lease out two copper mines — Rakha and Kendadih — in favour of Hindustan Copper Limited (HCL), triggering speculation of the public sector undertaking’s speedy revival.

For Rakha, mining operations will be renewed till 2025, while, for Kendadih, it will be till 2013. The mines department’s decision is now awaiting a seal of approval from the governor.

The Rakha and Kendadih mines, whose leases were held by HCL, had stopped operations in 2001 and 2000, respectively. About 450 permanent employees/labourers of Kendadih were offered voluntary retirement. While some took VRS, the others got transferred to HCL units in other states.

Over 700 employees/ labourers at Rakha mines followed the suit in 2001. The public sector undertaking (PSU) “surrendered” the leases in 2004 with global prices of copper witnessing a southward trend. Later, however, it withdrew its surrender petition.

This year, quite a few applications from the likes of Jindal, Essar and Meera Exploration were received for control over mining activities in the region, popularly known as Singhbhum copper belt and known for its vast deposits of copper, uranium and gold. However, HCL bagged the lease.

Talking to The Telegraph, deputy director of the state mines department R.N. Prasad said that they had decided to grant the mining leases to HCL because it was a PSU and “there had been a request from the Centre”.

A senior HCL official, requesting anonymity, said the renewing of leases for Rakha and Kendadih would act as a catalyst in reviving the PSU. “The HCL began incurring losses from the late Nineties. But for the past three financial years, the company has been earning profits. Once we get these mines, production will soar,” he said.

At present, the PSU enjoys mining right over 388 hectares in Surda in the Ghatshila sub-division, where it has employed Monarch Gold of Australia for mining activities. The Maubhandar unit of HCL produces copper cathodes and byproducts, including sulphuric acid, gold, silver among others.

Surda employs about 1,000-1,200 people and has a production capacity of 1,100 tonnes per day. The capacity of the Maubhandar plant has also increased from 16,500 tonnes per annum to 21,000 tonnes per annum.

East Singhbhum district mining officer Ratnesh Kumar Sinha said HCL would enjoy mining rights over Surda till 2014.