Mineral Transportations badly hit in Odisha as Modi-Naveen orders complete Lockdown

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By Anurjay Dhal

BHUBANESWAR: Tens of thousands of trucks engaged to transport minerals from Odisha’s mineral bearing districts like Keonjhar,Sundargarh, Mayurbhanj and Jajpur districts to various Ports and  Plants locations were on Tuesday midnight stopped operations after the Naveen Patnaik Government here imposed complete lockdown fearing COVID-19 outbreak in the State, sources said on Wednesday. “Transportations by around 70,000 trucks and tippers these 4 mineral rich districts have been badly hit since midnight as no truck is plying due to the nationwide lock down, sources added.

Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas &, Steel Dharmendra Pradhan, conducted a video conference with CMDs of all PSUs of Ministries of Petroleum and Natural Gas & Steel. He reviewed the status of supplies of petroleum products in the country, operations of refineries, terminals and steel plants and also reviewed the safety measures being taken for the employees and their families.

In a statement, Pradhan later said, “We are working to ensure that supplies of essential products to the people are not disrupted. At the same time, we are ensuring safety of our team members.”

“Our team members who are putting service over self and ensuring that essential supplies are not hit, deserve applause. I have instructed CMDs to take all necessary steps to ensure safety and well being of our employees and their family members,” he further added.

“These are challenging times. We must endure, we must prevail. Our team is fully geared up to meet the challenges. Together, we shall overcome.” the Minister said.

In connection with the COVID-19 outbreak, Minister of State (I/C) for Shipping Shri Mansukh Mandaviya today reviewed situation at all major ports regarding cargo handling, SOP, payment to casual labourers,  etc., through video conferencing, with all the Chairpersons of  ports and Director General, Shipping in this pandemic situation.

More than 90% of exim cargo is handled through ports.  For proper and smooth maintenance of the supply chain, the Ministry of Shipping is taking all-round measures. For easy movement of cargo at ports, the Ministry of Shipping has prepared Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to be adhered at all ports to fight against COVID-19.

Gopalpur Port Ltd has taken all precautionary measures to prevent the outbreak of COVID – 19 and It is strictly following the norms and directives received from the Directorate General of Shipping and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfares of Government of India, said Sandeep Agarwal, CEO GPL.

Meanwhile, Jharkhand’s Chaibasa based Rungta Mines Ltd Group, which has major mining operations in Odisha and Paradip Port have topped the list of Iron Ore Exporting Companies and Port.

Compared to last year (CY18), this year, Odisha’s contribution to India’s total iron ore production has increased significantly. In CY19, Rungta Mines Ltd secured the top spot by exporting 4.17 MnT of iron ore. Compared to CY18 the company’s iron ore exports increased 81% in CY19.

Not very far behind, SM Niryat is in second spot with exports of 3.98 MnT followed by Brahmani River Pellets Limited (BRPL) at 3.04 MnT.

Paradip remained the largest iron ore exporting port in CY19. This year, Paradip Port’s iron ore exports increased 110% to around 13.28 MnT against CY18’s 6.32 MnT. Dhamra Port is in second spot at 4.16 MnT and Vishakhapatnam is third, reporting exports of around 3.77 MnT.

In CY19, average annual prices of Odisha’s iron ore lumps of Fe 63% (5-18mm) were reported at INR 3,971/MT. The highest price was recorded in the second half of February at INR 4,600/MT, while the lowest price was observed in the first half of October at INR 3,500/MT.

India’s largest private merchant miner, Jharkhand-Odisha based Rungta Mines’ production grew 17.1% compared to CY18, at 28 MnT in CY19. Production of other major miners, including Serajuddin Mines and Essel Mining & Industries Ltd of Aditya Birla Group, also jumped significantly in CY19. Essel Mining & Industries increased its production by more than two-fold to around 11 MnT in CY19 while Serajuddin Mines’ production increased by around 55.6% to 13.4 MnT. Captive miner Tata Steel’s production was up 10.3% to 14.4 MnT in CY19.

Serajuddin Mines and Essel Mining & Industries, also jumped significantly in CY19. Essel Mining & Industries increased its production by more than two-fold to around 11 MnT in CY19 while Serajuddin Mines’ production increased by around 55.6% to 13.4 MnT. Captive miner Tata Steel’s production was up 10.3% to 14.4 MnT in CY19.

China was the top buyer of Indian iron ore. China continues to remain the largest buyer of Indian iron ore as well as of pellets. In CY19, India’s iron ore & pellet exports to China increased by 64% to around 24.79 MnT in CY19 against only 15.11 MnT in CY18.

China alone accounted for a share of 77% in total Indian iron ore exports. After China, Japan is the second-largest buyer of Indian iron ore with a share of around 5% followed by South Korea with 3% share.

The average annual price of Odisha’s iron ore fines of Fe 63% were reported at INR 1,947/MT. Prices peaked at INR 2,300/MT for one week during mid-February, while the lowest price was observed during the whole of October and the first half of November at INR 1,750/MT.

The average annual price of Karnataka’s iron ore fines of Fe 60% were reported at INR 2,045/MT while Fe 63% lumps were reported at INR 2,934/MT.

For Chhattisgarh’s iron ore fines and lumps, the highest prices were recorded in June and July. The average annual prices of Chhattisgarh iron ore fines of Fe 64% were reported at INR 2,638/MT. However, the average annual price of iron ore lumps (6-40mm) of Fe 65% were at INR 2,885/MT.

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