Wednesday, July 10, 2024

India’s only mechanised diamond mines at Panna restarted by NMDC

NMDC, India’s largest iron-ore miner under the Ministry of Steel, has resumed operations at the Majhgawan mechanized diamond mining project in Panna, Madhya Pradesh, marking the revival of India’s sole mechanized diamond mining endeavor.

According to sources, NMDC obtained all necessary approvals, leading to the resumption of operations on March 11 this year. Notably, there was no production at the mines during the fiscal year 2022, as reported in the company’s annual report, resulting in losses of approximately ₹50 crore.

“The diamond mining project in Panna has received all required approvals and resumed operations from March 11,” affirmed a senior official from the Steel Ministry. The Panna Diamond Mining Project, inaugurated in 1971-72, includes an ore processing plant equipped with a heavy media separation unit, X-ray sorter for separation, and a disposal system for tailings.

Initial operations will primarily focus on overburden removal and extracting a small quantity of diamonds from existing stockpiles for at least a year. Subsequently, efforts will shift towards scaling up production. Officials anticipate reaching an annual production of 40,000 carats over the next 2-3 years as the mine pit expands and overburden removal progresses.

Amitava Mukherjee, Chairman and Managing Director (Additional Charge) and Director (Finance) of NMDC, noted during an analyst conference call that initial operations may not yield significant profits, terming it a “waste mining” phase. Nevertheless, he underscored the historical significance of the Panna mine, referring to it as a prized asset for the company.

Despite no production in FY22 and a significant portion of FY24, diamond sales from stockpiles amounted to 25,219 carats in FY22, valued at ₹62.93 crore. Remote sensing studies have been completed in several prospective diamond blocks, including the Baloda–Belmundi diamond block in Chattisgarh, as outlined in the company’s previous annual reports. Additionally, ongoing drilling activities aim to further explore potential diamond-rich areas.

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