New Delhi, Oct 26: The opening day of the International Mining and Machinery Exhibition could also have been Orissa day.
Biju Janata Dal chief and Union steel and mines minister, Naveen Patnaik, inaugurated the biggest event of the Indian mining industry and Orissa chief minister J B Patnaik cut ribbons for the Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC) pavilion. The political opponents did not meet (at least not in public), but were drawn to the common grounds with the common objective of luring private sector investment into mining and mineral-based industries.
The Orissa chief minister did not seem unhappy with the response the state's industrial policy had already received from industry. ``We have four new steel plant's coming up at Daitiri (Kalinga Steels) and Gopalpur (Larsen and Toubro, Neelachal Ispat Nigam Limited and Tata Steel's new project) and two power projects that will bring in an additional generation capacity of 1000 MW,'' he said.
He did not feel that the Tata Iron and Steel Company's (Tisco)decision to commission its cold rolling mill at Jamshedpur was an indication that the private sector giant had changed its mind about Gopalpur as a location for its new project. ``The Tatas are going ahead,'' he said, adding, ``they have already invested Rs 2,300 crore...''
Also going ahead with their investment plans in Orissa are multinationals like Australian giant Rio Tinto, Continental Resources Limited of Canada and Empire Gold Mines N. L. of Australia, all of which have entered into joint ventures with the state-owned OMC. On the prowl are diamond tycoon De Beers, Ashton Mining Limited and Cluff Resources Pacific Limited.
The other blueprints for investments in Orissa include Indian Oil Corporation's joint venture refinery with Kuwait Oil at Paradip and another refinery being conceived by an oil company from the UAE. To cope with new industrial units, infrastructure was being built, like two new ports (one near Haldia and one at Gopalpur-on-Sea,) that should be complete by the year 2002.
``Therewill be an industrial park at Paradip,'' Patnaik said, to emphasise the euphoria the mineral wealth of Orissa had evoked within industry. The state, two-thirds of the land surface of which comprise pre-cambrian rocks, possesses 98 per cent of the country's chromite reserves, 71 per cent of its bauxite, 33 per cent of its iron ore and 32 per cent of its manganese resources.
The existing mines in Orissa yield an annual royalty of Rs 320 crore for Orissa. The Orissa Mining Corporation in addition, contributes from its yearly profits of roughly Rs 50 crore, out of a turnover of Rs 150 crore. ``We are the richest state in minerals, in the country,'' the Orissa chief minister said, suggesting that mineral-based industries would continue to play a key part in the industrial development of the state. No wonder Orissa chose to be the ``partner state'' at the global mining conference and will be the venue of the international fair in the year 2002.
Copyright © 1998 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.