As the exploration and search for minerals continues on the African continent, several multinational companies have shown eagerness to maximize on this mineral potential in the 54-member states.
Among the countries that have in recent months attracted scores of multinational companies is Tanzania, courted by National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) of India.
In its quest to expand its business beyond Asia, India’s largest iron ore miner is ready to develop the Bulyang’Ombe mining project in Tanzania at an estimated cost of US$50m.
The intention comes nearly 18 months after the Indian company submitted their feasibility report to the Tanzanian authorities for consideration of its intentions to invest in the sisal-rich East African nation.
According to local media reports, NMDC has devised a short-term strategy, which includes setting up of a small-scale mining and processing plant for its Tanzanian gold project. The project is estimated to have gold deposits of four tons. NMDC intends to develop the gold project through a Mine Development cum Operator (MDO).
NMDC had carried out gold exploration in the southern region of Lake Victoria, north-western part of Tanzania, during 2000 to 2003 delineating promising targets in Siga Hill area (Kahama district) and Bulyang’Ombe area (Nzega district).
The NMDC Limited (BSE: 526371, NSE: NMDC) is a wholly owned, state-controlled mineral producer of the Government of India. It is also under the administrative control of the Ministry of Steel.
It is involved in the exploration of iron, ore, copper, rock, phosphate, limestone, dolomite, gypsum, bentonite, magnesite, diamond, tin,tungsten and graphite among other minerals.
It is India’s largest iron ore producer and exporter, producing about 30 million tons of ore from three fully mechanised mines in Chhatisgarh and Karnataka. It also operates the only mechanised diamond mine in the country at Panna in Madhya Pradesh.
NMDC Limited is also diversifying into other raw materials for steel industry like low silica limestone. Production of Dead Burnt magnesite and further value addition is under study through its subsidiary J K Mineral Development Corporation Limited.
The company has taken over a Silica Sand mining and beneficiaton project from Uttar Pradesh State Mineral Development Corporation Ltd., The plant has been designed to produce high purity beneficiatedsilica sand of around 300,000 tonnes per year which is a raw material for production of float/sheet glass.
With a view to capture the opportunities now available following the Navaratna recognition and its expertise in the field of mineral exploration and mining, NMDC is venturing into development of high value minerals like gold and diamond, as joint ventures in some African countries.
A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between NMDC, Indian Rare Earths Limited, (IRE) and Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation to establish a joint venture for the development of Bheemunipatnam Beach Sand.
The project envisages mining of beach sands, setting up of mineral separation plant for Ilmenite concentrate and a downstream value addition plant for conversion of Ilmenite into synthetic Rutile/TiO2 slag/TiO2 pigment with pig iron as by-product.
NMDC is setting up a 3 MTPA capacity Greenfield Integrated Steel Plant in Nagarnar, located 16 km from Jagdalpur, with an estimated outlay of Rs 18,000 core.
The land for the plant has already been acquired as of August 2010 and, as of February 2012, 9 major packages and certain auxiliaries packages of the steel plant have already been awarded to internationally acclaimed companies at a cost of around Rs.11,000 core.
Tanzania’s Ministry of Energy and Minerals had granted NMDC four mining leases at the Bulyang’Ombe gold prospect in 2012, having a total area of 38.83 sq km for 10 years.
Apart from iron ore, NMDC also has interests in diamond mining. Its production of the precious material in the last fiscal year stood at 37,007 carats. NMDC is India’s only diamond producer operating from its Panna mine in Madhya Pradesh.
The company produced 30.18 million tons iron ore and sold 30.50 metric tons of the key steel-making raw materials in the last fiscal year.