Bhubaneswar: Anglo Australian mining major Rio Tinto who is keen to revive its 17-year old joint venture valued at an estimated Rs 11,000 crore with the state-owned Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC), took up the matter with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday.
“We have discussed on the matter relating to the joint venture between Rio Tinto and OMC. The Chief Minister indicated that the state government is looking into it” Australian High Commissioner to India, Peter N. Varghese, told reporters here after meeting CM Naveen Patnaik.
“We will continue our dialogue and hopeful that the joint venture programme will materialise,” added Varghese.
It is noteworthy to mention that Varghese arrived here on a three day visit to the state. Sam Walsh, Chief Executive Iron Ore, Rio Tinto, was also scheduled to accompany Varghese.
The two companies had entered into a joint venture on 24 February 1995 to develop the Gandhamardhan and Malangtoli iron ore deposits located in Keonjhar and Sundergarh districts in Odisha.
In the joint venture while Rio holds 51 per cent stakes, OMC has 44 per cent and NDMC holds 5 percent stakes.
However, the project had run into rough weather due to intractable differences between the two. While Rio Tinto was keen to export half of the iron ore mined, OMC emphasised on meeting raw material needs of local industries.
Later a legal battle ensued, wherein the OMC lobbied the Orissa High Court in 2003 to cancel the deal. At present the case is pending in the court.
The OMC however, does not appear enthusiastic. OMC CMD Saswat Mishra had said recently that OMC was not interested to revive the joint venture with the Australian company as it was not lucrative.
Apart from the Rio Tinto issue, we also discussed about cooperation in water resources, water management, river basin management and bio-diversity, Varghese added.
Source: 360 NS