Keeping to its announcement in the mineral exploration policy, the Odisha government has decided to float a company for mineral exploration. The firm entitled Odisha Mineral Exploration Corporation Ltd (OMECL) would be a subsidiary company of state controlled miner Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC).
R K Sharma, principal secretary (steel & mines), Odisha said: "We have come out with a policy on mineral exploration which underscored the need for forming OMECL. At today's meeting, we deliberated on its modalities. The thrust would be on exploration and we will focus on bringing more mineral blocks to the G2 level". According to available data, Odisha has around 700 sq km of virgin and free hold area which is supposed to be bearing the minerals like asbestos, bauxite, china clay, cobalt, chromite, fire clay, graphite, limestone, manganese, mineral sand, nickel, platinum group minerals (PGM), tin ore and vanadium apart from coal and iron ore. Till now, explored mines account for around seven per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the State.
The vast reserves of minerals have substantial scope for enhanced contribution to State's GDP.
The mining potential of this 700 sq km of unexplored area needs scientific exploration activities. Around five million meters of core drilling has to be done in this exercise. With available technology, around 150,000 metre core drilling can be done per year requiring around 30- 35 years for drilling of the entire area.
The approximate cost for core drilling is around Rs 200 crore per 100,000 metre. The financial requirement per annum comes to around Rs 300 crore to achieve the targeted quantum of 150,000 metre of drilling.
The state's mineral exploration policy strives to upscale the mineral exploration activities in the state with an aim of upgrading the exploration level to G2 level within a reasonable time frame and eventually to G1 level so that the potential of mining sector is achieved through scientific exploitation of mineral resources.
The Directorate of Geology would publish a consolidated report on the status of mineral exploration and the estimated mineral reserves in the state within six months. This report is expected to provide focus on mineral exploration activities and help in identifying the exploration gaps and guiding the investment in mineral exploration.
A master plan would be prepared for a time frame of 10-15 years by the Directorate of Geology with technical assistance and support of experts, for taking up reconnaissance and prospecting operations for mineral exploration, in consultation with all stakeholders.