Hindustan Copper is set to switch production from its open-cast mine to an underground mine, which would boost output.
State-run Hindustan Copper is aiming to increase its ore production from 4.1 million tonne this fiscal (FY19) to about 20 million tonne by FY24.
The company hopes to achieve the five-fold production expansion by switching production from its main open-cast mine in Malanjkhand, Madhya Pradesh, to an underground mine, ramp-up in production at its other mines, and a few acquisitions.
HCL’s open-cast mine in Malanjkhand is set to run out in a couple of years after nearly 40 years of operation.
The company has identified reserves of about 160 million tonne in the underground mine, for which construction is nearly complete and production could begin by September this year.
“We are going for an expansion in a big way,” the company’s CMD Santosh Sharma said. “The expansion will cost Rs 5,500 crore, which will be funded through a mix of internal accruals, raising of equity and debt.”
Hindustan Copper, which also has its own smelting capacities, has struggled to raise ore production over the past decade.
The company is India’s only copper miner even as private players such as Hindalco and Vedanta are the big players in smelting.
‘Waste to wealth’
The company has also started production at the first-in-Asia copper ore tailing (COT) project, which processes the byproduct waste that is typically dumped after ore processing.
Through the project, Hindustan Copper aims to process 3.29 million tonne ore tailings and extract trace precious metals such as gold and silver through it, besides copper and silica.
“The plant can extract 1 kg of gold, 10 kg of silver and 5,000 tonne of glass-grade silica,” Sharma said. “This could lead to revenues of Rs 220 crore and a profit of Rs 50 crore in the next fiscal.”
Hindustan Copper has 70 million tonne of ore tailings accumulated over the decades of production.
Besides Sharma said that the company has also inked a contract with Railways to sell waste rock, also called overburden — rocks that are extracted during the mining process. Railways can use these rocks for making ballast, which is laid on tracks.
The company has 250 million tonne of waste rock at its Malanjkhand site.(Hindustan Copper organised the visit to its facility in Madhya Pradesh.)