Hindustan Copper is focusing on re-opening its closed mines and expand existing ones in its quest to increase ore production five times from the current level of 4.1 million tonne (MT) by 2025.
The company, which is also keen on bagging new mines, is expected to spend around Rs 6,000 crore in this endeavour. The Miniratna company will be reopening the Rakha mine in Jharkhand during this financial year which was closed in 2002 owing to operational reasons. It will also start operations at the Chapri-Sidheswar mines in the same state.
“We intend to float the tender for bidders for reopening the Rakha mine by June end”, Santosh Sharma, chairman at Hindustan Copper said.
The Rakha mine, which falls under the Indian Copper Complex mining area of the company, is estimated to hold 47 MT of resources and like most of its other mines, will be developed through the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) route.
According to Santosh Sharma, once Rakha mine starts full scale operations at an expected investment of Rs 900 crore over a 3-4 year timeframe, the production from this mine will stand at 2.5 MT. It is also expecting the Kendadih mine to commence operations which it reopened in 2017.
“Production cannot take place as soon as a mine is reopened. Mining equipment work first needs to be completed, dewatering needs to be done and then there are other operational aspects which takes around 3-4 years for a reopened mine to commence production”, Sharma said.
As a result, to reach its target of 5.1 MT in the FY20 and the ambitious target of 20 MT by 2025, Hindustan Copper is relying on new projects as well as focusing on scaling up production from its existing mines.
For the Malanjkhand project in Madhya Pradesh, which holds proven reserves of 245.66 MT and estimated resources of 331.59 MT, the company is expanding the production capacity from the present 2 MT to 8 MT by developing an underground mine below the existing open cast mine at an investment of Rs 2,900 crore. It is the copper producer’s largest project.
In case of the Khetri and Kolihan mines in Rajasthan, the production is expected to go up to 3.5 MT from the current 1 MT while for the Surda mine in Jharkhand, production from copper ores will be more than doubled to 1 MT. Hindustan Copper is currently evaluating the bids received from the contractors to operationalise the greenfield Chapri project in Jharkhand, which holds proven reserves of 41.6 MT and two brownfield projects in Malanjkhand and Surda.
“The gestation period for the new projects as well as the reopened mines will be over by 2025 while the brownfield expansions underway currently will help existing mines reach better economies of scale. In turn, it will thus help in increasing production to 20 mt by 2025”, Sharma added.
Hindustan Copper has also asked the Jharkhand government for allocating the Dhobani-Pathargora block while clearances have been received for the Chapri-Sidheshwar (Jharkhand) and Banwas (Rajasthan) blocks.
These three greenfield projects together are expected to account for 5 MT or 25 per cent of the targeted production in the long-term while existing mines will account for 12.5 MT or 62.5 per cent of the targeted production. Reopened mines will account for the rest 2.7 MT of ore production.
It has also applied for the necessary licenses to explore new copper deposits in Alwar, Sikar, Jhunjhunu and Chhitorgarh in Rajasthan, Balaghat in Madhya Pradesh and East Singhbhum in Jharkhand.