The public sector Hindustan Copper Ltd is aiming to double its production of copper at its plant, at Jagadia in Gujarat, which it had bought from ARCIL in May 2015, according to its chairman-cum-managing director K.D. Diwan. It is also planning to invest up to Rs,2,200 crore for harnessing new technology.
“We have commenced commercial operations in this project and hope to achieve the rated capacity of 50,000 tonnes next year,” he said, adding that 25,000 tonnes of LME grade copper was produced at this scrap plant. HCL had bought the plant for Rs.210 crore. “We have invested Rs.100 crore in this plant which has been closed since 2009, and we expect to start revenue generation by 2017-18.”, he said.
Addressing a press meet, Mr. Dewan said that HCL had short-listed one company each from China and Finland for sourcing a new technology for processing copper concentrate to produce refined metal.
Called the hydro-metallurgical extraction technology, this is more efficient than the current fossil-fuel based technology being used by HCL, this enables use of an aqueous chemical reaction for extracting copper.
Importantly, it is expected to enable recovery of high-grade sterling silver and gold of bullion grade from the concentrate the company said in its bid document for EOI which it had invited earlier this year.
HCL is a vertically-integrated company present in mining, smelting refining and casting. It owns all the copper mining leases in the country. It has complexes in Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh and plants in Maharashtra and Gujarat.
It is currently implementing an expansion programme to quadruple its mining capacity from 3.2 million to 12.4 million tons. However, the cost of this project has ballooned from Rs.3,435 crore to Rs.6,000 crores with time overrun from 2017 to 2020. “The cost increase was mainly due to incorporation of new projects in this expansion plan,” he said.
He also mentioned that two other copper producers have joined HCL in seeking government action for protection against imports, which now cater to close to 30 per cent of the country’s copper demand. The producers have also urged the government to desist from signing any more free-trade agreements as these were hurting industry.
HCL skipped paying dividends in 2015-16 as its profits plunged. Mr. Diwan said that the situation was now improving the company, with improved domestic demand.
Source: The Hindu