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Steps being taken for lease extension of more mines, says Mines Minister

Bhubaneswar, Dec 9: Odisha Government is taking expeditious steps for extension of lease validity of mines as per legal provisions, said Steel and Mines Minister Prafulla Kumar Mallikat an ASSOCHAM event held in Bhubaneswar on Friday.

“The validity of lease period has already been extended in case of 82 mining leases, including 55 iron ore producing leases as per the amended provisions of Section 8A (5) and 8A (6) of Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) (MMDR) Act, 1957,” said the Minister while inaugurating an ASSOCHAM India Steel Summit.

He said that coking coal reserves available in India have high ash content and are thus not fully suitable for making iron. “Efforts should be made to use indigenous wash coal to bring down cost of production, research and development (R&D) support without compromising with quality.”

The Minister also said that focus should be made to maximise use of iron ore fines by enriching iron concentration through ore beneficiation and utilisation of iron ore in form of pellets which will not only bring down cost of steel but also promote a friendly environment.

He added that issues pertaining to logistics and infrastructure support must be addressed through mechanisation of mining and railway network in mines’ area. “This will help in handling bulk quantity of iron ore raw materials and hence reduce transportation costs,” added he.

Highlighting the poor per-capita steel consumption in rural sector, Mallik said there is a need to thrust upon infrastructure and automobile sectors that are amid largest consumers of steel.

“Rise in demand from these sectors will help in augmentation of steel production which will help in capacity utilisation of existing facilities and bring down cost of production,” said he.

The Minister also said that efforts should be made to encourage small and medium scale steel manufacturing in India. “Manufacture of household items like utensils and furniture in villages would lead to reduction in prices and lead to greater acceptability.”

He said that there is a need to bolster rural infrastructure to encourage village level entrepreneurs to take up such businesses by providing them easy credit through microfinance schemes.

Mallik said that training should be imparted to rural populace to work in steel sector, besides a R&D initiative should be undertaken to provide machinery in these areas at affordable costs.

“There is a need to ensure availability of raw material at a competitive price to realise the advantage of Indian steel sector,” said DS Rawat, secretary general, ASSOCHAM.

“Logistic costs remain the concern for transporting raw material and finished products, accordingly there is a need to develop required logistics support for transportation at a reduced cost,” said Rawat.

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