MOIL eyeing manganese properties in South Africa,Turkey, Congo

The announcement comes ahead of Miniratna Manganese Ore India Ltd's (MOIL) 20 per cent initial public issue, which is likely to take place later this month, through which the government plans to mop up about Rs 1,500 crore.

"The demand for manganese is going to grow. The requirement will grow to 4.5 MT by 2012 from about 2.4 MT at present. We are looking at acquisition of some manganese property abroad. We have visited South Africa and Turkey and are also exploring possibilities in Zambia and Congo," MOIL Chairman K J Singh told reporters here.

The company is exploring opportunities in South Africa with NMDC, which is India's largest iron ore producer, Singh said, adding that besides manganese, MOIL is also eying nickel and chromite properties abroad.

Manganese ore is a key ingredient for producing steel and about 30 kg of ore is required to produce a tonne of steel. The country's steel output is likely to increase to 120 MT by 2012 from about 70 MT at present, resulting in the need for about 4.5 MT of manganese ore.

MOIL at present meets 50 per cent of the domestic requirement of the ore and plans to ramp up production within the country to 1.5 million tonnes from the existing 1.1 million tonnes by 2015 through an investment of Rs 768 crore.

In addition, the company plans to spend Rs 50 crore every year for acquisition of equipment capable of increasing production, Singh said, adding, "The company has cash reserves of Rs 1,700 crore."

The company is also in the process of expanding its domestic ore reserves and plans to carry out about 50,000 metres of exploratory activities in 814 hectares of land adjacent to its existing reserves in Bhandara and Nagpur, which has been reserved for it by the Maharashtra government.

It is waiting for prospecting licences to explore more reserves, the Chairman said, adding that the company's proven reserves stand at 22 MT at present, out of the total resource base of 69.6 MT.

"We have only 20 per cent of the country's reserves with us, but possess 65 per cent of the country's high grade reserves," Singh said.

MOIL is also setting up two ferro-alloy plants under joint ventures with SAIL and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd at a total investment of Rs 150 crore.

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