A day after the government granted forest clearance to Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) for Chiria mines in Jharkhand, the state-owned firm on Friday announced an investment of Rs5,000 crore to develop the mines initially for a capacity of 7 million tonnes per annum.
Chiria mines is known to have one of world's largest high grade iron ore reserves of around 2 billion tonnes. Over the next 50 years, around 40% of SAIL's ore requirements would be met through these mines and Bokaro, Durgapur, Rourkela and Burnpur steel plants would be solely dependent on Chiria. The four plants currently account for over 70% of SAIL's annual production.
Due to its untapped mining resources made more attractive by spiralling iron ore prices, Chiria has been a bone of contention for the last 5 years with SAIL claiming its right even as others including ArcelorMittal eyeing it. Chiria mine leases were a part of the erstwhile Indian Iron and Steel Company (IISCO) that got merged with SAIL in 2005.
"A wave of relief has swept through the company and employees are jubilant that a major concern has been settled," said CS Verma, chairman, SAIL. "We will leave no stone unturned to ensure that mining in Chiria leaves no marks on the environment and that sustainable development of the area is possible."
SAIL plans to invest Rs10,200 crore in mining over the next three-four years.