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Despite pandemic, mining sector maintained pace: Steel & Mines Minister Mallik



Notwithstanding the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the mining sector in Odisha maintained the pace of work following initiatives taken by the state government, said Minister for Steel and Mines Prafulla Kumar Mallik today.

Addressing the ‘National Metal and Mining e-Summit 2021’ organized by the Steel and Mines Department of the Odisha Government and the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the Minister said, “Odisha is known for its rich mineral resources. The sector however, witnessed a minor effect during the initial phases of COVID-19; but the government initiatives helped keep the sector on track.”

“We were able to conduct the auctions of mines during the period. Meanwhile, at the central level the MMDR Act saw some amendments which also made the work in the sector more conductive and user-friendly,” he added.

Speaking on the occasion, State Mines Director Debidutta Biswal claimed that the digitization of several mining related works helped in better management of mining business despite the pandemic.

“Odisha was one of the few states in India which had the online mineral monitoring system. We also issued e-passes during the pandemic to ensure hassle free movement and business of the sector. Grant of many online licenses to the sector also reduced human interface. Of the 24 mines auctioned, production started at 19 mines,” Biswal said.

Industry experts deliberated on the resilience of the mining sector during COVID-19, state policies, the bottlenecks and the future plan.

Manish Kharbanda, Member, Core & Advisory Committee & Mentor, Steel & Mines Committee, ICC said, “Steel & Mines sector has immense potential to contribute to the development of Odisha. The State government should focus on the value addition of the mineral reserve in the State, which can generate five times more revenue than mining on a standalone basis.”

Stating that many operational plants cannot utilize their total installed capacity due to low availability of ore in the open market, Kharbanda suggested that the Odisha Government should allot iron under Preemption Policy of the State for the survival of the State-based industries aligned to the vision of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and his legendary father Biju Patnaik. “When about 58 per cent of the State based iron ore is allowed interstate export, the survival of the value addition industry and the associated economic growth is bound to slow down, which will have disastrous medium to long term consequences for the State,” he opined.

ICC Odisha State Council Chairman J B Pany said, “India still stands to be a power house when it comes to mining. Also with India’s strong focus on Atmanirbhar Bharat and Make in India resulting in boost in manufacturing across a plethora of sectors is expected to boost the metals and mining sector. ICC organized the National Metal and Mining e-Summit 2021 to bring forward and discuss how the new wave of COVID has affected the mining sector and how the sector is acquainting itself to a new normal and preparing itself to face challenges from upcoming waves if any. This summit is an extension to the effort by the chamber to discuss the dynamics of the sector across the value chain of our economy.

Odisha Mining Corporation Ltd. Director – Technical (Operations) Sabyasachi Mohanty spoke about the new avenues available to miners now with the amendment of several mining laws.

The theme of the webinar was “Building resilience in the mining and metal industry and the way forward‟. The event witnessed the coming together of several stakeholders of the industry to talk in detail on the issues faced by the industry post COVID, the existing hurdles, government policies and the way forward.

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