Faced with challenges, BSLC struggles to sustain profitability

The company’s future looks fraught with several challenges to sustain momentum.
A BSLC mine in Birmitrapur of Sundargarh district
A BSLC mine in Birmitrapur of Sundargarh district(Photo I Express)

ROURKELA: Though Bisra Stone Lime Company Ltd (BSLC) in Sundargarh’s Birmitrapur has pulled itself out of the vicious cycle of continuous losses, the company’s future looks fraught with several challenges to sustain momentum.

Five years back, the BSLC, a subsidiary of the Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL) had with the intervention of the Ministry of Steel (MoS) achieved profit after tax (PAT) of Rs 6.91 crore in 2020-21, Rs 7.9 crore in 2021-22 and Rs 11 crore in 2022-23. In financial year 2023-24, the company made unaudited PAT of over Rs 13 crore. When things began looking up, BSLC’s two main buyers, SAIL and RINL reportedly seemed hesitant in placing adequate orders. The company faced immense financial hardships from almost two decades and from 2010 to mid-2020, it struggled with losses leading to workers’ unrest and intermittent closures.

Only after the MoS stepped in five years back and went an extra mile to ask SAIL and RINL to buy minerals from the BSLC for use in their steel plants that the situation improved.

Sources said the company in 2023-24 had dispatched around 10.25 lakh tonne which included about 80 per cent of blast furnace (BF) grade dolomite to RSP, BSP, DSP and IISCO besides the RINL’s plant. The remaining 20 pc was limestone which was supplied to RINL and JSW cement plant.

Incidentally, the present dispatch is just one-fifth of the BSLC’s potential. The company has Environment Clearance (EC) for enhancing production to 5.26 million tonne per annum (MTPA) of dolomite and limestone. It has reserves of around 287 million tonne of dolomite and 367 million tonne of limestone.

Reliable sources said the company is worried with SAIL indicating to reduce purchase by 30 pc, while the BSLC’s parent company RINL too is indicating to reduce procurement citing financial hardship and alternative option of relying on its own dolomite mines.

Besides, the BSLC faces another major trouble of not getting adequate railway rakes to enhance dispatch. Officials said to maintain the present level of profitability, the company needs an average of 23 railway rakes per month. However to further enhance profit, the company needs around 40 rakes per month.

With profits in small figures in the last four years, the company cleared gratuity dues of about Rs 6 crore pending since 2012 and also reduced pending salary dues to 16 months from 22 months.

Birmitrapur MLA Shankar Oram said BSLC is the economic lifeline of tribal-dominated Birmitrapur and nearby areas. “The company was once a bulk employment generator but now the employee strength has reduced to barely 381 including 12 executives,” he said asserting, after elections are over, he would bring the BSLC issue to the notice of the new government at the Centre.

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The New Indian Express