India would face a severe manganese demand/supply gap by 2020 and a drag on steel production in the country, according to the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM), quoted by Miningweekly. “A huge gap will persist in demand and supply position by 2020, which is a matter of grave concern and in the existing situation needs immediate attention to revamp the entire mining activity on a large scale by all companies,” the IBM said.
In a report titled ‘Manganese Ore: Vision 2020 and Beyond’, the government’s multidisciplinary organisation said that during 2012/13, Indian manganese production was estimated at 2.5-million tonnes of between 30% and 35% manganese content.
The entire production was accounted for by companies such as MOIL Limited, Tata, Orissa Mining Corporation and Sandur, and even if their existing and future production were taken into account, the country’s manganese production would be around five-million tonnes a year by 2020, against a total demand forecast of nine-million tonnes a year, the report said.
With a consumption rate of nine-million tonnes a year of run-of-mine manganese ore, the estimated Indian reserve of 142-million tonnes would last for a maximum of 10 to 15 years beyond 2020, and “unlike other metals, recycling of manganese was not possible, making it a consumable commodity in steelmaking and entirely dependent on fresh resources”.
With depleting high-grade manganese ore reserves and a revision of the threshold value of manganese ore to 10%, it was obligatory on the part of the mining industry to exploit low and lean grade manganese ore that was now considered as waste.
Most of the exploration was carried out at a cutoff rate of 20% manganese as opposed to the present threshold of 10% manganese content, and exploratory agencies laid emphasis only on manganese, with manganese content above 25% suitable for the blast furnace route of steelmaking resulting in meager reporting of reserves and resources across the country, IBM maintained.
The Indian manganese industry was currently very fragmented and dominated by small and medium-sized enterprises, which was not a viable environment for the creation of capital-intensive beneficiation facilities across the country.
Therefore, IBM has advocated small miners taking a consortium approach with those producing ore of similar characteristics to pool their production from mines in the vicinity to feed a centralised processing unit.
To encourage small miners to adopt the consortium model the mining industry organisation was seeking government incentives in the form of cheaper power and water tariffs, a reduction in royalties for the sinter-making industry and a waiver of import duties on imported technology and equipment for setting up sintering and beneficiation facilities.(Soruce: miningweekly.com)