July 20th (Sify) – Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Ltd (KIOCL) is negotiating with NMDC, Ispat Industries, JSW Ltd and Mysore Minerals Ltd (MML) to secure conversion jobs to utilise spare capacity of its pellets plant. According to the proposal, the company will receive ore from the contracted parties for conversion into pellets.

The company also plans to appoint an internationally reputed agency to prepare a detailed report on the possibility of resuming mining operations at the closed Kudremukh mine without disturbing the ecology. The process to appoint the consultant may begin in the next two months. The mine was closed in January 2006 following a Supreme Court order on environmental concerns.

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July 18th (Steel Guru) – It is reported that Ispat Industries Limited is poised to get the much awaited iron ore mining lease in Jharkhand. The company is believed to have already received letter of allotment from the government a few days back for a mining lease at Latua in Chaibasa, in West Singhbhum district.

As per report, the mine is estimated to contain reserves of over 100 million tonnes of iron ore with iron content of 64% to 65%. State mining department officials maintained that the company s name has been recommended for allotment of iron ore mines at Latua.

July 12th (Steel Guru) – BL reported that National Mineral Development Corporation will push for a better price for its iron ore with Japanese steel mills & South Korean steelmaker POSCO during negotiations scheduled for the end of the month 2008.

Mr Rana Som C MD of NMDC said that “Though the dates have not yet been finalized, officials have said that the meeting could be either on July 26th or 28th with Japanese steelmakers followed by meeting with officials of POSCO.”

He said that “This time the negotiations are going to be totally different. On previous occasions there were no talks, but a standard increase as applicable to everybody was effected. This time since the price of the ore is being decided depending on the country of origin and because our ore is of very good quality we are hopeful of getting a good deal.”

Mr Som said that “We expect the increase to be similar to what the Australian companies have got because of the good quality of ore that we mine.”

He said that the negotiations would also be a benchmark for determining the price rise for iron ore that is supplied to the domestic steel companies such as Essar Steel, Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited & Ispat Industries.

National Mineral Development Corporation sells high grade fines at INR 1,783 a tonne and lumps at INR 2,500. In comparison, the price private miners demand is determined by the price prevailing in the spot market, which is at INR 4,500 to 6,000 a tonne.

July 10th (The Telegraph) – The Centre has awarded an iron ore mining lease to Ispat Industries Ltd controlled by Pramod Mittal and Vinod Mittal, brothers of steel tycoon L.N. Mittal.

The group, which has a 3MTPA plant at Dolvi in Maharashtra and downstream facility (that has cold rolling mill producing galvanised steel and colour coated steel products) at Kalmeshwar near Nagpur, has been allotted Latuaburu iron ore reserves in West Singhbhum district.

Sources in state mines and geology department said the proposed reserve has 150MT to 200MT of medium-grade iron ore spread over an area of 500 acres.

“We had sent the recommendations to the Centre for providing an iron ore mining lease to Ispat Industries Ltd few months ago. We have got the information that it has been cleared. The official communiqué is yet to reach us, though,” said director of state mines and geology department B.B. Singh.

The company had signed an MoU with the state government in 2006-07 fiscal to set up a 2.8MTPA steel plant and a power plant with an overall investment of about Rs 8,000 crore. The power plant was supposed to be run by Ispat Energy Ltd, a sister concern of the group.

The group is yet to start groundwork as the site for setting up the steel and power plant has not been decided yet.

July 9th (Business Standard) – NMDC Spice International, a proposed 50:50 joint venture between state-owned miner NMDC and Spice Minerals and Metals, a part of the Spice Energy group, is close to acquiring two iron ore deposits in Armenia. The acquisition is likely to entail an investment of $500 million (Rs 2,173 crore).

NMDC Chairman and Managing Director Rana Som said two iron ore deposits had been identified with reserves of 300 million tonnes and 75 million tonnes and the final discussion over the acquisition will be held by the weekend.

Spice Energy officials were travelling and not available for comment. The firm, promoted by a group of individuals, has interests in oil and gas, power and alternative fuels. Sanjay Malhotra, one of the promoters of Spice Energy, has a stake in SpiceJet.

Investments in these mines will be roughly 30 per cent more than in most mines because the quality of ore here requires higher value addition and pelletisation. The investment will be equally shared between NMDC and the Spice group.

Som said the 75-million- tonne deposits, which were privately held, had been fully explored.

“We will make pellets and bring them to India through the Poti port in Georgia on the Black Sea. The project also has rail links,” he added.

Industry sources said the project could bring some respite and improve availability of iron ore in the Indian market.

The project could help bridge an anticipated shortage in the light of India’s target of a steel capacity of 300 million tonnes by 2020, which would require iron ore reserves of approximately 14 billion tonnes over 30 years. India has proven reserves of 6.311 billion tonnes of the total estimated reserves of 23.588 billion tonnes.

NMDC is a major supplier of iron ore to JSW Steel, Essar Steel, Ispat Industries in the private sector and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam (RINL) in the public sector. NMDC produces 30 million tonnes of iron ore from its Bailadila mines in Chhattisgarh and Donimalai in Karnataka.