Australian mining major Rio Tinto on Saturday said its first priority was to supply iron ore to local steel industries instead of focusing on export.
“Our first priority now is to supply iron ore to steel industries in Odisha and then in India. If available, we may go for export of the raw material,” Rio Tinto’s Chief Executive (iron ore) Sam Walsh told mediapersons after a meeting with Chief Secretary BK Patnaik here.
A delegation led by Australian High Commissioner Peter Varghese met the Chief Secretary and discussed several issues, revival of its joint venture (JV) with the State-owned Odisha Mining Corporation being the main agenda.
Walsh said Rio Tinto is keen on reviving the JV with OMC and the company is firmly standing by the project. Both the parties as well as the local people will benefit if the JV was revived, he said.
Claiming that Rio Tinto had been undertaking corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities since the JV was signed with OMC in 1995, Walsh said the company had completed drilling work and feasibility study on the proposed mining project and is waiting for approval. “We did not raise the topic,” was his response when asked about the export clause in the earlier agreement with OMC.
The JV was signed for development of Gandhamardan and Malangtoli iron ore reserves in Keonjhar and Sundargarh districts, but it did not materialise following dispute over quantity of export of mineral.
Walsh said they were committed to the project and set an example in undertaking scientific mining which would take care of environment and community development.
“We are optimistic about revival of the JV once the mining legislation is enacted at the central level,” Walsh said, adding Rio Tinto undertakes best of mining and operation practices in the world.
Australian High Commissioner Varghese said they discussed mining sector and other developmental projects with the Chief Secretary. The State Government is examining Rio Tinto’s proposal for revival of the joint venture with OMC.
Pattnaik explained about Odisha’s stand on the project in the light of the proposed mining legislation and Shah Commission’s probe into mining matters, he said.