Iron ore, gold production rises, but bauxite falls

9th April 2018

While the production of bauxite and chromite fell in 2017-18, the output of other minerals such as iron ore, gold, copper and manganese increased, according to estimates of the Ministry of Mines.

After witnessing a decline of 12.3 per cent in 2016-17, bauxite production has decreased 16.34 per cent in 2017-18 to 20.63 million tonnes, according to the ministry. Chromite production, which saw a surge of 27.83 per cent in 2016-17, witnessed a fall of 7 per cent in 2017-18. Coal, of similar grade to the one used in power plants, and bauxite are used for aluminium production. The total domestic consumption of primary aluminium metal in 2016-17 was 1.55 million tonnes and it is expected to be at the same level during 2017-18, according to the ministry.

According to a senior aluminium industry executive, China, which used to import a significant amount of bauxite from India, has started importing it from other countries such as Australia and Guinea due to better quality and lower cost. “This has affected the bauxite production in India. Moreover, Indian aluminum consumption has remained lukewarm for the past few years. So, there is no point increasing the bauxite production beyond what is required,” he added.

On March 21, Sajjan Jindal, chairman and managing director, JSW Group, tweeted: “India has the world’s fifth-largest Bauxite reserve estimated at around 3.5 billion tonnes which is of a very high quality. It’s high time our government comes up with some policy on aluminium production in India.”

Odisha, with 49 per cent contribution, was the leading producer of bauxite, followed by Gujarat (24 per cent), Jharkhand (9 per cent), Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra (8 per cent each). The share of public sector mines in the total production was 31 per cent, while the remaining was contributed by private sector mines. There were 157 reporting mines of bauxite during 2016-17, of which, 17 were owned by public sector units and 140 by private sector players.

Odisha reported almost entire production of chromite. Public sector companies, which have 10 mines, have a share of 34 per cent in the total production. There were 25 active chromite mines during 2017-18, according to the ministry. An Odisha-based mining sector executive said that a few major mines of the state had increased their chrome ore production in 2016-17 as the export duty of 30 per cent was removed on March 1, 2016. However, it was re-imposed on May 26, 2016. China is the biggest consumer of chrome ore. “These mines have been exporting to China. In 2017-18, they have brought down their production marginally to sustainable levels keeping in mind the market demand,” he added.

Compared to an increase of 21.48 per cent, the iron ore production in India increased 9.57 per cent in 2017-18. Public sector mines contributed about 36 per cent in total production and share of private sector was 64 per cent in 2016-17. There were 296 reporting mines in 2016-17, compared with 330 mines in 2015-16.

Gold production also saw a marginal increase of 0.01 per cent in 2017-18. However, in the previous financial year, it saw a significant increase of 20.48 per cent. While almost entire production of gold ore and bullion was reported from Karnataka in 2016-17, there were 5 reporting gold mines in three states during 2017-18. Of these, 3 mines are located in Karnataka and one mine each in Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand. Diamond production saw a massive jump of 20.31 per cent in 2017-18, compared with marginal jump of 1.3 per cent in 2016-17.


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