Odisha’s steel & mines department is mulling to resume its stalled auctions process, offering eight blocks for the bidders. The blocks endowed with deposits of chromite, limestone, dolomite and graphite are a mixture of virgin blocks as well as the ones currently under the leasehold of merchant miners.
Auctions of mineral blocks in Odisha, a repository of minerals, are restarting after a hiatus of more than a year. Not a single mineral block in the state could be put to online auctions in FY 2019 as the case pertaining to maximum lease hold area for a miner was entangled in litigation.
According to government documents, two chromite blocks held by B C Mohanty (Kamarda chromite mines) and Misrilall Mines (Saruabil chromite mines) in Jajpur district will be put to auctions. Both mines are operational and produced 144,000 MT and 207,000 MT respectively in FY19. Their combined production contributes over 8% of state’s chrome ore production which stood at 4.3 million tonnes in FY19.
Both the mines are scheduled to be auctioned tentatively in the first week of August. Blocks are likely to be offered for merchant miners. Combined reserves of the two blocks are around 13 million tonnes.
It may be noted that after drawing a blank in last fiscal, Odisha has geared up to auction 40 mineral blocks in FY 2020- 16 merchant mines and 24 untapped, virgin deposits.
How will the dynamics change?
The re-auction of merchant mines could likely lead to disruption in raw material supplies to steel and other industries, resulting in chaos. Nearly 90 per cent of the country’s Chrome Ore mines are classified as Merchant Mines. Moreover, many Ferro Chrome plants that are without captive chrome ore resources are dependent on supplies by the merchant miners, and may face disruption in production. How will the situation pan out and evolve as the country heads to the much-anticipated 2020 auctions? To keep track of all the relevant developments, register for the International Ferroalloys Conference 2019 to be held at ITC Maurya, New Delhi, from 12 to 14 September.