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Australian govt takes up Rio Tinto-OMC JV issue with Odisha CM

Bhubaneswar: Seeking revival of the 17-year-old joint venture between Rio Tinto and the Odisha Mining Corporation, the Australian government on Friday took up the matter with the state government and pinned hope on the progress of the mining project.

"We have discussed on the matter relating to the joint venture between Rio Tinto and OMC. The Chief Minister indicated that the state government is looking into it.

Obviously some of its examination will be influenced by the final mining bill at the central level," Australian High Commissioner to India, Peter Varghese, told reporters here after meeting CM Naveen Patnaik this evening.

Varghese said that the Australian government would continue dialogue over the matter with the Odisha government.

"The JV certainly needs to go through approval process here," the High Commissioner said.

He said Rio Tinto had an equity of 51 per cent in the joint venture while the state owned OMC and NMDC together held 49 per cent stake.

The JV between Rio Tinto and OMC which was signed way back in 1995 for development of Gandhamardhan and Malangtoli iron ore reserves in Keonjhar and Sundergarh districts, it did not materialise following dispute relating to the quantity of export of mineral from the state.

OMC CMD Saswat Mishra had said recently that the state miner was not interested to revive the joint venture with the Australian company as it was not lucrative.

Besides Rio Tinto issue, the Australian High Commissioner also discussed on some projects his country and Odisha could do together. "Vocational education is one area given high priority by your chief minister," he said.

Australian government could also cooperate with the state in other matters like water management, water resources, river basin and bio-diversity in which they have expertises, Varghese said.

The High Commissioner described the meeting with the chief minister as "good and productive".

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