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26.7.09

NEW DELHI: The country's largest iron ore producer, NMDC, is likely to restart mining operations at the Panna diamond reserves in Madhya Pradesh
by August 15 and is currently undertaking trial runs at the site.

NMDC chairman Rana Som has left for the Panna reserves to assess the production and commercial operations of the mine and understand the commercial viability of the project to come out with a definite date for resuming mining in the area.

"Right now the trial run is going on. I am going only for that (finalize a date to resume full mining operations). It will take a maximum a month, I wish the mining operations can be resumed before August 15," Som said.

Last month, the steel ministry had said the reopening of the mine will be a top priority for the government.

Unable to obtain environment clearance and a nod from the adjoining wildlife sanctuary, the Panna diamond mines was shut in 2005.

However, with a recent conditional nod from the Supreme Court which asked the miner to pay Rs 10.69 crore as net present value (NPV) to the state government, the ministry said it was working to reopen the mines within the 100 days of the current government's coming to power in June.

Som said he wanted to take a view of the mining work at Panna before steel minister Virbhadra Singh visits the place and inaugurates the resumption of activities.

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