State-owned miner NMDC may foray into rare earth minerals and beach sand mining, among others, according to official sources.
The miner is mulling to approach Atomic Mineral Directorate (AMD) for necessary permissions as some of the minerals it intends to mine fall under radioactive family.
“So far, our focus is only iron ore and little bit diamonds. Going forward, we will focus on earth minerals, gold, and beach sand mining. In beach sand mining, there are seven minerals called heavy minerals,” sources said.
“Out of that (heavy minerals), Monazite is one part which contains radioactive elements like uranium and thorium, if the content of monazite is more than 0.75 per cent of the total heavy minerals then it has to be dealt by AMD which is empowered to give special permission. We will approach the AMD. That is the area in which we believe the future lies,” sources added.
A rare earth mineral contains one or more rare earth elements as major metal constituents.
Meanwhile, according to sources, NMDC, which had earlier acquired a gold mine in Tanzania, is also mulling to set up a pilot gold refinery in the country.
The state-run miner does not undertake gold mining in India.
A senior official from the Steel Ministry in this regard said, “We are trying to identify an agency which can put up plant there for us. We will call international agencies for the pilot project in five to six months time. Once tendering process is over, it will take 12 to 18 months for the plant to commence operations.”
The official also said NMDC may dilute stake in its wholly owned subsidiary Jharkhand Kolhan Steel Ltd through SPV route.
“We will limit ourselves to supply of Iron ore and maintenance of mines. We will divest our stake to people who are interested in setting up plant. Jharkhand government will provide land and we will get all clearances. We have no intention of putting up money for the steel plant,” the official said.
In June, last year, NMDC signed a tripartite MoU with the Steel Ministry and Government of Jharkhand for setting up of a steel plant at Jharkhand, which will have 3 million tonnes per annum capacity initially and would be expanded to 6 MTPA eventually.