State-run miner NMDC is likely to soon sign an MoU with Vietnam-based Masan Resources for a possible acquisition of a minority stake in a tungsten mine in the Southeast Asian nation, a top company official said today.
"We have got clearance from the Ministry (of Steel) (for the MoU). We are going to have an MoU with Masan Resources very soon.
"Then the due diligence will be done. After that we will take a call on whether to invest (in the mine) and if yes how much. We have a JV partnership with Midhani. DMRL will be supporting in the form of funding the due diligence," said P K Satpathy, NMDC Director (production), at a press conference.
Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL), associated with the DRDO, is responsible for the development and manufacture of complex metals and materials required for modern warfare and weapon systems.
He said the JV with Midhani, a defence PSU, has also identified some resources in Tasmania, Australia, and one in the UK for exploration.
Sources in the company said the MoU may be signed next month.
Masan operates a mine that produces about 6,000 tonnes of ammonium para tungsten per annum.
Currently, India mainly imports tungsten, a rare metal found naturally on earth, for its domestic requirements due to higher production cost.
NMDC and Midhani signed an MoU in October last year to explore suitable tungsten assets in India and abroad for investment as well as development of technologies for converting tungsten ore into ammonium para tungsten.
"Our country's requirement will be in the order of 250 -300 tonnes. It (the usage of tungsten) is confined to defence requirements," Satpathy said indicating NMDC may have interest in acquiring a minority stake only.
N Baijendra Kumar, Chairman-cum-Managing Director of NMDC, said the company will be investing about Rs 3,500 crore this fiscal year towards capex, including for the steel plant that it is setting up in Nagarnar, Chhattisgarh.
Kumar said NMDC will focus on gold exploration in the tenements they acquired a few years ago in Australia.
Similarly, the company will participate in auction of gold mines in Madhya Pradesh, he said.
On iron ore production outlook for the current fiscal, the CMD said they expect the output to cross 34 million tonnes.
Meanwhile, NMDC is organising a function here on December 8 to celebrate its diamond jubilee.
The celebrations would formally inaugurated by Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, while Steel Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh will preside over the function, Kumar said.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, Union Ministers Vishnu Deo Sai and Y S Chowdary are also expected to participate in the programme, he added.
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