Rio Tinto seeks to revive joint venture with Odisha Mining

18 October 2012 (Last Updated October 18th, 2012 18:30)

Australia-based miner Rio Tinto has sought to revive its 17-year old joint venture with Indian state-owned Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC), a venture valued at an estimated INR110bn ($2bn).

Rio Tinto India

Australia-based miner Rio Tinto has sought to revive its 17-year old joint venture with Indian state-owned Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC), a venture valued at an estimated INR110bn ($2bn).

The two companies signed a deal on 24 February 1995 to develop the Gandhamardhan and Malangtoli iron ore deposits located in Keonjhar and Sundergarh districts in the state of Odisha, India.

The deposits have a capacity to produce 25 million tonnes of coal a year with Rio Tinto seeking to export half of the mined iron ore, which was opposed by OMC, in order to supply domestic steel industries.

Following the disagreement, a legal battle ensued, wherein the OMC lobbied the Odisha High Court in 2003 to cancel the deal.

Rio Tinto iron ore chief executive Sam Walsh now seeks to open fresh talks with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Chief Secretary BK Patnaik on the issue on 19/20 October 2012, reported the Business Standard.

Walsh will be visiting the state with the Australian High Commissioner Peter Varghese for the Oz Fest Indigenous Cultural Concert in Bhubaneswar.

The OMC does not appear enthusiastic; on 28 September 2012, OMC chairman and managing director Saswat Mishra was quoted by the Business Standard as saying that it was decided after a board meeting that the joint venture is not lucrative for the corporation.

"The JV pact with Rio Tinto presently stands null and void and OMC is no longer willing to revive the project. We have already informed the state government regarding our intent. It is now going to be the government's call whether it wants to renew the project or not," Mishra said.


Image: Rio Tinto is keen on reviving its joint-venture in Odisha, India. Photo: Rio Tinto.