Bhubaneswar, Dec 14: The diverse geological setting and varied mineral resources in the landmass of Orissa and its adjacent areas of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh have attracted the attention of geo scientists, explorers and entrepreneurs.
Owing to continued efforts by geo scientists engineers, metallurgists and technocrats working in the field of mineral exploration and development, Orissa has also become the destination of investment in the world in mineral sector, Steel and Mines Minister Padmanav Behera said while addressing the 7th International Mining History Congress here yesterday.
Mr Behera said the Australian government aided High Resolution Aeromagnetic survey, reassessment of iron ore reserve in Mankarnacha deposits by the Rio Tinto-Orissa Mining Corporation Limited, the indication of PGE mineralisation of interest in Boula-Nuasahi, the existence of natural gas in offshore areas by Reliance Energy and the discovery of the occurance of diamond in Nuapada areas by the Director of Geology had contributed significantly to the pace of economic development of the state.
''The state has signed MoUs for production of 74.65 million tonnes of steel per annum with 46 steel plant companies with an investment of Rs 1.95,540 crore,'' he said.
''There is tremendous opportunity for investment in some of the other sectors like beach sand, nickel, diamond, gold, gemstone, graphite, tin ore and limestone in Orissa,'' he said.
This apart, there was vast potential for exploration of new deposits and value addition of the minerals.
But the utilization of low grade ore with modern technology is the need of the day, Mr Behera said and stressed that exploration must be accompanied by continuing innovation,application of state-of-the-art technology,safety activities, induction of new technology, mineral beneficiation and utlisation with due importance to environment management and infrastructural development.
''Orissa with its rich iron ore resources, surplus power and availability of natural ports besides, harmonious industrial relation and strong political will is also looking forward to mining companies coming up for value addition of their mineral within,'' he observed.
The mineral industry in India, Mr Behera said, has made significant contribution to economic development of the country but there was now need to preserve,understand and utilise mining history and heritage for proper appreciation of the important role of mining in the present context.
About 150 delegates from India and abroad are participating in the conference, the first in India. They will deliberate on aspects relating to history of mineral exploration, mining, metallurgical practices, legislative measures, industry, trade and economy.