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NMDC resumes operations at India’s only mechanised diamond mines in Panna

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NMDC obtained all the requisite approvals, and operations resumed on March 11 this year

Mumbai: National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC), the country’s largest iron-ore miner and a CPSE under the Ministry of Steel, obtained all the requisite approvals, and operations resumed on March 11 this year, sources told reportersThere was no production in the mines from FY22, as per annual report of the company. Losses from the diamond mining project for the first nine months stand at close to Rs 50 crore.

“The diamond mining project, Panna, has got all the requisite approvals and resumed operations from March 11,” a senior Steel Ministry official said. The Panna Diamond Mining Project commenced production first in 1971-72. The project includes an ore processing plant with a heavy media separation unit, X-ray sorter for separation and disposal system for tailings generated.

Officials said that for at least one year, the focus will be on overburden removal, and “producing small number of diamonds from its stockpiles”. After that, work will take place on increasing production. “The project will gradually reach a production of 40,000 carats per annum over the next 2-3 years, once the mine pit is sufficiently expanded, and after overburden removal,” an official maintained.

Amitava Mukherjee, Chairman and Managing Director (Additional Charge) and Director (Finance), during a recent analyst conference call, said, “But now for one year, we have to do waste mining. One year we do not expect any diamond to be found. Because the one-year waste mining in Panna is generally not a very profitable venture for us. But it is our oldest mine, the only mine…. so, it is like the diamond on the crown.”

“Once we start producing it will come on drastically, but it will not be a money spiller for us,” he had said.

In FY21, the mines had achieved a production of 13,681 carats. While there was no production in FY22, diamond sales (from stockpiles) stood at 25,219 carats in FY22 and were valued at ₹62.93 crore. There was no production in FY23 and for over 11 months of FY24. The annual report (FY23) mentions that it has got a prospecting license in the Baloda–Belmundi diamond block in Chattisgarh.

Its previous annual reports mentioned that remote sensing studies have been completed in Chhattarpur Panna Block 1, Chhattarpur Panna Block 2 and Damoh Block, Panna (5 prospective blocks) and additional 12 diamond blocks. Around 3,882 meters of drilling completed in 5 blocks and balance drilling in revenue areas is under progress.

Courtesy: The Hindu Businessline

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