Mines Area News
Mining Area News
Kuju Coalfield Fire, Jharkhand - Everyone is now paying the price for illegal mining by coal mafia since, now the routes (National Highway-33) taken by the vehicles are circuitous, unsafe and difficult.

A vast portion of National Highway-33 in eastern India connecting Ranchi with Patna, the capitals of two neighbouring states of Jharkhand and Bihar respectively, caved-in near a place named Kuju in Ramgarh district of Jharkhand on 10 August 2009.


This caving in of the highway has been attributed to a fire that has been raging from the underground coal mines in the vicinity since early morning hours of Sunday (August 10).  This happened on the stretch between Loha Gate and Kuju where instances of fire from unused or closed mines are believed to be frequent.


Reportedly, the area is rich in coalfields and was once under mining by Central Coal Fields Limited (CCI). Later, it was left abandoned, where some villagers did illegal mining and left the coal reserve exposed within the earth, which caught fire when the black diamond came in contact with air.


Consequent to the raging fire, the district administration and police officials have stopped all kind of vehicular traffic on the highway.  "Early morning at four, a portion of National Highway-33 got caved in. We have blocked the highway so that nobody can inadvertently enter here. The district administration and police officials have cordoned off the area with red cord barring any traffic inflow," said B K Singh, General Manager, Central Coal Fields Limited (CCL).


The underground mine fire was so intense that it created a deep crater on the highway disrupting the traffic and causing panic among the people residing in the nearby villages. Now, the families from these villages have been asked to vacate their homes and move on to some safer place until the fire is completely doused off.


There are around 52 homes in the surrounding villages. "The situation is really worse. We are residing in this village for the past 30-40 years. CCI (Central Coal Fields Limited) was looking after it but they are unable to do anything. Even government can't do anything. We have been given two days to vacate the village," said Santosh Kumar, a resident of a village near Kuju.


The coal mine fire has spread to the entire underground area and the solid coal base within the earth has got reduced to ashes and now slowly cracks have started appearing on the surface of the earth.





The devastating mine-fire under National Highway-33 connecting Patna with Ranchi near Kuju in Jharkhand has increased the distance between the two capitals. Reports said that the crater formed on the Ranchi-Patna Highway further widened on Tuesday.


Another crater has appeared near the old one near Loha Gate in Kuju in Ramgarh district. The diameter of crater has increased from 15 to 20 feet. The other crater is 30 metre from the Highway and is smaller in size. It is feared that more crater would come up if the fire is not brought under control soon.


Now the routes taken by the vehicles are quite circuitous. They have to go through either Bokaro or Ghato. The smaller vehicles are, however, still going through the old route via a newly built diversion along side the subsided Highway stretch. Nobody can guess how long will it take for the normalization of traffic.


The underground fire is now taking calamitous proportion. It is now an uphill task for the Coal India Limited. Local people said that had the warning signals been timely addressed the situation would not have worsened to such an extent. "We are using chemicals, foams and water to control the intensity of underground fire. Once this is done we will have to go in for open cast mining to extinguish the fire completely, and take out coal and the area will be refilled with earth," said CIL Chairman-cum-Managing Director, Rajan Kumar Saha. He said that it would take at least three months to construct a diversion near Kuju. It will be done under the CCL community development porgramme. The diversion would be builtd by the National Highway Authority of India and the CCL would provide the money. Saha attributed the devastating underground fire to miscreants involved in illegal mining.


Coal is highly combustible and when it comes in contact with oxygen it forms carbon di oxide and carbon-monoxide besides generating a lot of heat. When the heat does not dissipate it accumulates and comes out in flames. He denies that warning signals in the form of smoke billowing out from the mine were not taken seriously. He said that the CCL had abandoned that mine. The smoke started coming out of the ground only just a few days ago and the CIL took immediate action, he claimed.


The district administration as well as the local people, on the other hand, claims that the smoke had been coming out from the mines for the last several months.


Kujju Coalfield fire sparks cave-in fears

An underground blaze was reported today along the Ranchi-Patna highway (NH-33) at Kujju in Ramgarh, where coal mine fires have been raging for some time now, triggering fresh fears of land subsidence.


The source of the fire is an abandoned mine of the Central Coalfields Limited (CCL) near Loha Gate, barely 30m from the highway. Columns of flames, some as high as 300ft, were seen from a distance.


According to local residents, a portion at the spot has subsided, resulting in craters. "Thick, black smoke has covered the stretch making it difficult for us to commute as we cannot see anything. In the evening, the situation becomes more dangerous. Accidents are just waiting to happen as there are steep curves," complained a local resident, Rakesh Shankar.


A team of CCL officials visited the spot and took stock of the situation. Conceding that it was impossible to douse the flames and thus save the highway, the officials said that a diversion was the only solution.


Last week, the state road construction department had decided to construct a 765m diversion — between Lakdi Gate and Singh Hotel — to bypass the fire-ravaged area. But work is yet to start.


However, sources said that the Ramgarh administration was prepared to divert the traffic from Naya More of Kujju to reach Charhi on the highway via Ghato. But they added that it would take at least two months to construct the new route.


Hazaribagh, Aug. 6: Telegraph

Jharia Coalfield Fire rehab drive under fire

The Jharia Rehabilitation and Development Authority (JRDA), in-charge of relocating thousands of families who will have to vacate their homes on the mining town's fire zone, has been de-registered, dealing a body blow to the implementation of the Rs 7,028 crore rehabilitation package cleared by the Centre a week ago.


In a notification issued today, the inspector-general (IG) (registration) cancelled the registration of JRDA, declaring it a "fake and non-existent" panel since it hadn't conformed to the rules of the Societies Registration Act 1860.


The JRDA was registered under the act with the office of IG registration, government of Jharkhand, with registration number 430/2004-05.

Cautioning the people not to deal with the panel, Gauri Shankar Prasad, the IG, (registration) said: "The JRDA may have been associated with the government. But, we have declared it bogus because the body was not fulfilling norms."


Dhanbad deputy commissioner A K Singh, who is also managing director of JRDA, was caught unawares: "I am yet to know about the IG registration's decision to declare JRDA as bogus. I will verify why this has happened."


Singh said the JRDA was a government organisation and he would pursue the issue with the appropriate authority. Also, after today's development, he would talk to senior officials to ensure there was no hitch in implementing the Jharia rehabilitation plan —for which the cabinet committee on infrastructure approved a package of Rs 7,028 crore on July 30.


Under the plan, the JRDA was to oversee relocation of Jharia township which has been sitting on an underground mine fire raging for nearly a century. As many as 1.12 lakh families, whose homes are in the danger zone facing subsidence, would have to be relocated.


Early in July, the state administration decided to shift as many as 4,650 families from five areas declared unsafe by the directorate general of mines safety within 100 days.


The families, who reside in Gwalpatti, Rajput basti, Bokapahari, Modivita and Luj pit, will be shifted to Bhuli township, a residential colony of the Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL) whose residents have already launched a vicious campaign against the plan.


Ranchi, Aug. 6: Telegraph


Hindustan Copper Limited (HCL) is reviving its captive mines in Ghatshila that were closed since the last two decades

Hindustan Copper Limited (HCL) is reviving its captive mines in Ghatshila that were closed since the last two decades to tap a window of opportunity thrown up by stabilising international prices of the metal.


The PSU, already in revival mode with the infusion of about Rs 65 crore, has decided to outsource mining activities to revive the Kendadih mines located between Jadugoda and Surda in the Ghatshila sub-division.


HCL general manager S. Purty told that they have started the revamp process in right earnest. "We are spending about Rs 65 crore for augmenting the capacity of the smelter plant and the copper mines. Apart from Kendadih, we have plans to re-open all other closed mines for which talks are on with the state government," he said.


HCL's management has already floated tenders for the supply of copper concentrate from the Kendadih mines.


HCL's decision — once implemented, it hopes to earn a 50-year headstart — comes after it increased the annual capacity of its smelter plant from 16,500 tonnes to 21,000 tonnes.


Of HCL's five captive copper mines in Ghatshila, Surda mines is operational. The rest, namely Sidheswari Chapri, Kendadih, Patherbera and Rakhamines, have remained shut since the '80s when copper prices crashed in the international market.




Company sources said when Kendadih mines was closed in 1989, the prices of copper at the London Metal Exchange (LME) had come down to Rs 98,000 per tonne whereas the cost of production per tonne in HCL was around Rs 2.5 lakh. Since it wasn't economically viable to continue, HCL was forced to stop mining in those areas.


The price of copper shot up to Rs 3.75 lakh per tonne in October last year. "At present, the international price of copper is Rs 2.65 lakh per tonne which makes the revival project economically viable," said a senior official of the company's marketing division.


D.P. Mukherjee, general secretary of the Jharkhand Copper Mazdoor Union, who is playing an active role in reviving the Kendadih mines, said the company has floated a tender for procuring copper concentrate from the mines.


"HCL already has a copper concentrate plant at Rakhamines. Whoever is chosen after the tender process is through, will then have to revive the Rakhamines-based plant to produce a minimum of 350 tonnes of copper concentrate a day," he said.


HCL would use the copper concentrate instead of processing copper directly from the ore procured from mines. Each tonne of copper ore yields only one per cent copper. But, a tonne of copper concentrate contains 25-28 per cent of copper.


© The Telegraph / June 27, 2009

Mining threatens Similipal Tiger Reserve in Mayurbhanj district of Orissa

SIMILIPAL is known worldwide for its tigers, orchids and dense sal forest with streams and other scenic spots. Even the recent controversy relating to the number of tigers was in focus for several days. Similipal has a wildlife sanctuary that covers an area of 2200sqkm and was notified on 03/12/1979. Also it was declared as a National Park in two phases - the first phase in 1980 and the second phase in 1986, covering an area of 845.70sqkm. The Similipal Biosphere Reserve came into existence during 1994 as per the Man And Biosphere (MAB) programme of UNESCO and the total area under the Biosphere Reserve is 5569sqkm with Similipal Sanctuary at the centre. The other distinction is that the Similipal Reserve Forest is the biggest reserve forest block in India with an area of 2271.78sqkm.


The forest is a potential habitat both for wild animals and plants; it has a good population of tigers, leopards, elephants, chital, sambar and 304 species of birds. Similipal Reserve Forest is spread over an area of 2750sqkm and was declared a Tiger Reserve with effect from 04/12/1973 under the Project Tiger Scheme of the Government of India. It has been conferred with legal status as per Section 38 V of the Wildlife (Conservation) Act, 1972 vide notification no. 8F(T)-9/2007/20801/? F&E dated, 31/12/2007 of the government of Orissa in the forest and environment department. The notification has been clearly indicated with boundary description of Critical Tiger Habitat (core) extending over 1194.75sqkm and a buffer area of 1555.25sqkm.


There are four villages situated within the Critical Tiger Habitat and 65 villages in the buffer area. The Similipal-Kuldiha-Hadgarh Elephant Reserve commonly known as the Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve in the state of Orissa was notified vide notification No.15806 dated 29/09/2001 and revised vide No.18639 dated 28/11/2001 of the forest and environment department, government of Orissa comprising an area of 7043.04sqkm.


Despite all the above legal recognition, Similipal now faces an ecological threat from mining. However the field director of the Similipal tiger reserve in his response to an RTI application, had written that there were no legal or illegal mines operating in the Similipal Biosphere Reserve. In reality, a quartz mine has been operating in an area of 40 hectares in the Khasadiha and Balidiha area for the last eight years. In this connection, the divisional forest officer, Baripada, in his letter to the district collector dated 10/03/04, stated that the mining area comes under the purview of the Forest Conservation Act 1980 as per the order dated 12/12/1996 of the Honorable Supreme Court in writ petition (c) No 202/95.


Therefore, mining cannot be allowed in such a patch with good forest growth, irrespective of its ownership and classification.


Protesting the mining operation that required the felling of trees, the Mayurbhanja Jungle Surakshya Mahasanhga represented by the Bibekananda Pattanaik, has filed a petition with the Central Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court in July 2008. The committee had directed the ministry of environment and forest to depute an officer to investigate the matter and submit a report. Also it is alleged by the applicant that the mining work has been carried out without any environmental clearance from the ministry of environment and forest and the Orissa State Pollution Control Board has also issued a show cause notice for operating the mine without a valid consent.


The present blasting activity in the mining site also threatens the Balidiha Irrigation Project, situated just half a kilometer from the mining site and which is a historic construction dating back to 1912AD, made during the reign of the Maharaja of Majyurbhanj, Sri Ram Chandra Bhanja Deo, in the river Palapala. Because of the blasting activities carried out in mines, it is obvious that mining activity is detrimental to the movement of wildlife and this has been already noticed particularly among the elephants in the area. In the greater interest of forest and wildlife, local people and conservation groups are demanding closure of the mine.


Sankar Pani

Mine owner beaten up by Adivasis in Jamshedpur

A mob today held a mine owner and his bodyguard captive over a land dispute at Turi village under Potka police station, 20km from here.


D.C. Das, the owner of a mineral mine and a crusher unit, and his bodyguard, Sunil Singh, were rescued following police intervention.


Sources said Das, a resident of Turi village in Potka, had picked up a quarrel yesterday with the villagers over the approaching road to the mine.


While the villagers claimed that an area, which is the approaching road to the mine, belonged to the state administration, Das said it was part of the mining lease granted by the district mining office.


This morning, his staff found the approach road to the mine blocked with boulders when they tried to drive trucks to the mines. They informed Das who arrived at the village with his bodyguard around 11am. He asked a group of workers to remove the boulders.


While the road was being cleared, a mob of few hundred villagers arrived there armed with bows and arrows, and took Das and his bodyguard hostage. On the spur of the moment, the bodyguard fired in the air, but this only added fuel to protest fire.


The angry tribals tied Das and his bodyguard to a tree and beat them up. The duo were held captive for more than an hour.


A police team from Jamshedpur reached the spot when one of the company officials informed them.


East Singhbhum superintendent of police Naveen Kumar Singh said that an executive magistrate who had accompanied the police team to the troubled spot took stock of the situation.


He convinced the villagers that he would find out whether the disputed land belonged to the state or was a part of the mining lease area given to Das.


"The situation was prevented from spinning out of control in the nick of time and the mine owner and his bodyguard rescued," said Singh, adding that they were trying to solve the problem amicably.


Telegraph / June 16, 2009

Vedanta arm to buy Dempo's biz

Anil Agarwal's shopping spree continues. Even as the pursuit for Arizona-based copper firm Asarco is on, Agarwal has sealed a deal back home. Sesa Goa, a subsidiary of Agarwal's Vedanta Resources, is buying the Dempo group's oldest and most priced asset its mining business in Goa for Rs 1,750 crore in an all-cash deal. A few months ago, the Dempos separated the mining business and investment portfolio from the holding company, V S Dempo & Co (VSD), to make way for a new investor.


Though the earlier plan was to rope in financial investors, the Dempos changed their mind after Sesa Goa made an attractive offer, a source said. Interestingly, two years ago, Vedanta sprang a surprise by emerging as the highest bidder for Mitsui's 51% stake in Sesa Goa for $981 million, beating ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel company, and Aditya Birla group. Sesa Goa marked Vedanta's entry into the iron ore segment.


Iron ore is a major raw material in producing steel, a key metal used to manufacture automobiles and refrigerators. Since ore deposits are found in only a few countries India's deposits are among the largest in the world the VSD acquisition consolidates Vedanta's position.


While the Dempos are exiting the iron ore business in Goa, they have decided to keep their mining interests in Maharashtra and Jharkhand. For Sesa Goa, India's largest private sector iron ore exporter, the deal brings in synergies between the two units. Sesa Goa is funding the acquisition from its existing cash resources, which stood at Rs 4,413 crore as on March 31, 2009.


"We are delighted at this opportunity to consolidate the iron ore business in Goa and integrate Sesa's & VSD's operations and achieve greater synergy," said Vedanta chairman Anil Agarwal.


Ambit Corporate Finance advised the Dempo group on the deal. Dempo chairman Shrinivas Dempo said, "We are pleased with this agreement with Sesa Goa which will ensure long term sustenance of VSD's operations."


Sesa Goa is now acquiring VSD, which owns and has the rights to mining reserves of about 70 million tonnes of iron ore for 17 years. VSD has 19 mines in Goa. In addition, Sesa Goa is acquiring VSD's related infrastructure like processing plants, barges, jetties, trans-shippers and loading capacity at Mormugoa Port, under Dempo Mining (100% subsidiary of VSD) and Goa Maritime (50% held by VSD).


VSD, which has been mining iron ore for 60 years, has revenues of Rs 976 crore with an EBITDA of Rs 417 crore in 2008-09. Sesa Goa reported a net profit of Rs 1,995 crore on revenues of Rs 5,183 crore in FY09. Of the 4mt of iron ore produced every year, VSD mainly exports to China, Japan and Hong Kong. Iron ore prices have been up in recent times to $55 due to rising demand from China.


The Dempos intend to utilise the proceeds from the sale of VSD in strengthening their other business interests spanning across calcined petroleum coke, ship-building, food and travel. The group's only listed entity, Goa Carbon, is the second largest calcined petroleum coke (CPC) in the country after Rain Calcining.


12 Jun 2009, TNN

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