Hindustan Copper Limited (HCL) is expanding its mining capacity by about 250 per cent, by converting an existing open cast mine to an underground mine.
HCL will invest Rs1,856.36 crore to develop the open cast Malanjkhand Copper Project (MCP), in Madhya Pradesh to an underground copper ore mine, raising its capacity to 5 million tonnes a year from the current 2 million tonnes a year.
HCL will undertake the expansion of the Malanjkhand Copper Project through own funds and would not require any budgetary support from the government. HCL has already received approval from the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) for the proposed investment.
MCP has rich extractable copper reserves of 141 million tonnes, which is more than 70 per cent of the known reserves in the country.
Against this, HCL is currently mining 2 million tonnes of copper ore a year through open cast method from the mine. The depth of open cast mine has reached 340 meters and the mine has a residual life of less than 7 years, ie, till March 2018. Open cast mining is not financially viable beyond the current depth as the cost of ore production will be more than that of an underground mine.
The project will be executed by an engineering procurement and construction (EPC) contractor and is expected to take five years for completion. After completion of the project, Malanjkhand will be the biggest underground mine in the country.
Successful implementation of the project will also reduce country's dependence on imported copper concentrate.