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NMDC eyeing deposits in Latin America

With the aim of diversifying into mining of other minerals than iron ore which is its core expertise, state-owned miner NMDC is eyeing gold and copper deposits in Peru apart from iron ore blocks in Brazil. According to sources close to the development, the public sector undertaking (PSU), whose representatives had earlier this month visited both the nations along with Manganese Ore India Ltd (MOIL) officials, have had interactions with Governments of Brazil and Peru and visited some of the prospective locations, which they may finalise by end of this fiscal.

A delegation of NMDC and MOIL officials to both the Latin American nations was led by Steel Secretary D R S Chaudhary during the first week of November. Official sources said that matters related to having cooperation in the mineral sector were discussed at a bilateral level with Governments of both Peru and Brazil by the delegation and once things firm up with them then a forward movement could be seen in terms of having company level negotiations related to acquisitions of concerned mineral deposits.

While MOIL showed keen interest in manganese deposits mainly in Peru, NMDC is keen on diversifiying towards mining of other minerals and is said to have showed a lot of interest in gold and copper deposits in that country. “Peru has a lot of volcanic rock deposits which contain gold and copper reserves and NMDC went through a lot of presentations related to these sites as well as visits were also conducted to these locations,” sources informed. If finalised, this would expand NMDC’s reach in the Latin American region as the mining company is also keen on exploring gold and copper deposits in Afghanistan. In terms of copper production, Peru ranks third in the world while it is the sixth largest producer of gold overall. MOIL, sources said, also explored sites in Peru for manganese deposits, as the country is considered to be rich in the mineral which plays an important role in production of steel and iron.

Though locations of the deposits of gold, copper and manganese in which NMDC and MOIL are learnt to have evinced interest are not known as of now, sources said that once talks are firmed up on a bilateral level between India and Peru, then both the state-owned entities may enter into discussions with various companies there which deal with the aforementioned minerals. Official sources added that as of now only presentations have been seen and sites have been shown, the exact size and shape of the reserves are not known.

Meanwhile in Brazil, NMDC is learnt to have shown interest in iron ore deposits which are said to be situated in that country’s Bahia province. Though here too the actual size of the deposits is not known, sources said. Brazil is among the key nations where NMDC is planning to acquire iron ore assets apart from several other nations. It has already announced acquisition of 50% equity in Legacy Iron Ore, a listed entity in the Australian Stock Exchange, for Australian $18.9 million (Rs 108.31 crore at current exchange rates), and has shown intentions of eyeing more acquisitions in Brazil, Mozambique, Russia, USA and South Africa.

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