Bhubaneswar: In a bid to revive its 17-year-old joint venture with Odisha Mining Corporation, Anglo-Australian mining major Rio Tinto on Saturday said its first priority is to supply iron ore to local steel industries instead of focusing export.
“Our first priority now is to supply iron ore to steel industries in Odisha and then rest of India. If available, we may go for export of the raw material,” Rio Tinto’s chief executive, iron ore, Sam Walsh told reporters after a delegation led by Australian high commissioner Peter Varghese met chief secretary B.K. Patnaik.
Stating that the company was keen to revive the JV with the state owned OMC, Walsh said: “We will ensure that we can stand firmly in the project.” Both the parties as well as the local people will benefit, if the JV was revived, he said.
Claiming that Rio Tinto had been undertaking corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities for 17 years since the JV was signed with OMC in 1995, Walsh said the company had completed drilling work and feasibility study on the proposed mining project and “We are waiting for approval”.
The JV was signed for development of Gandhamardhan and Malangtoli iron ore reserves in Keonjhar and Sundergarh districts, but it did not materialise following dispute over quantity of export of mineral. Initially, the Australian company was adamant on export of 50% of iron ore to be produced from the JV. However, Walsh said they were committed to the project and set an example in undertaking scientific mining which would take care of environment and community development.
“We are optimistic about revival of the JV once the mining legislation is enacted at the central level,” Walsh said, adding Rio Tinto undertakes best of mining and operation practice in the world. High commissioner Varghese said: “We discussed on mining sector and other developmental projects with the chief secretary. The state government is examining Rio Tinto’s proposal of revival of the joint venture with OMC. The chief secretary explained about Odisha’s stand on the project in the light of the proposed mining legislation and Shah Commission’s robe into mining matter,” he said. PTI