Rio awaits govt nod for investment in Odisha

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New Delhi: Global mining giant Rio Tinto will invest USD 2 billion to set up an iron ore project in Odisha and another USD 500 million on a diamond mine in Madhya Pradesh but is waiting for approvals to move ahead, the company’s CEO Sam Walsh said today.

“We have the potential for two projects. An iron ore project in Odisha with a USD 2 billion investment potential and a half a billion dollar investment in Madhya Pradesh in diamonds,” Walsh told reporters on the sidelines of a CII conference here.

The projects are however stuck as the company has not yet got environment clearance.

Walsh said he had talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the planned USD 500 million investment in Bunder diamond mine in Madhya Pradesh.

“We are waiting for approvals, forestry and environment approvals, which I am hopeful will come through in the near term. Prime Minister and I have met three times during the past six months and I talked to him about the two major projects and the opportunities,” he said.

Besides, Walsh said talks with Modi have also focused on the prospects of uranium exports to India and on coal mining opportunities, especially in view of negotiations on the civil nuclear deal with India.

“The diamond project is very important downstream because it will provide 30,000 jobs in diamond cutting,” he added.

The project has been pending for long and Rio Tinto, which has a global diamond exploration portfolio had already secured “in-principle approval to the issue of a mining lease” for the Bunder Diamond project via a ‘Letter of Intent’ from Madhya Pradesh government.

The company claims that once developed, the Bunder mine is expected to place Madhya Pradesh in the top 10 diamond producing regions of the world.

Rio Tinto has a proven record of world-class diamond exploration success. The most advanced exploration project is at Bunder in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh where Rio Tinto has discovered a cluster of eight diamondiferous pipes.

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