Indias Hind Copper to reopen mine by end-2007

Indias Hind Copper to reopen mine by end-2007

Hindustan Copper Ltd. , India’s third-largest copper producer, is planning to revive a closed copper ore mine with annual capacity of 450,000 tonnes before the end of 2007, a company official said on Friday.

Deals have also been signed with arms of four overseas firms for exploring other copper deposits in India.

“Maybe we will have a foreign partner for the mine, there is Indian interest also. We are planning to start it towards the end of 2007,” the official, who could not be named, said of the mine at Surda in the eastern state of Jharkhand.

Copper prices hit a record high of $8,800 in May last year as miners struggled to keep pace with demand, especially from rising Asian power China, and overcome supply problems.

But since they have retreated as outlook for demand became less certain. Copper has been trading at about $5,700 per tonne.

Hindustan Copper has rights to explore copper deposits in the states of Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh.

The firm has three operational mines in India and is the country’s only integrated producer of refined copper. Its total mining capacity is 3 million tonnes annually.

It also has five closed mines in Jharkhand.

The mines were closed between 1997-2002 because of low mechanisation and a fall in London Metal Exchange prices.

“Our dependence on imported copper concentrates will decrease after the revival of the mine,” the official said, adding that the firm imports about 30,000 tonnes of concentrate annually.

The official said Hindustan Copper has also signed agreements with four partners for exploring copper deposits in India — Geo Mysore Services India, Canada’s Hunter Dickinson, Australia’s Monarch Gold Mining and Canada’s Cornerstone Capital Resources.

“Now it is a matter of collaboration. The resources are so much and the unexplored areas are so vast in the country that there may be multiple projects,” the official said.

He said consultancy firm A.T. Kearney was developing a business model for the four tie ups.

“The foreign partner will make the investment in exploration, and for subsequent operations, there will be sharing of resources. We have 300 million tonnes of established copper reserves,” he added.

In 2006, the firm said it would invest 15 billion rupees ($340 million) on expansion over the next seven years.


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