Rs 1,850-cr JV ilmenite mining project in Kollam to be cleared

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala industries department has recommended to the state cabinet to clear a Rs 1,850-crore joint venture project for ilmenite mining in Kollam district of the state, says Industries Minister P K Kunhalikutty.

He says the cabinet will soon consider the joint venture project between National Minerals Development Corporation (NMDC), Indian Rare Earths (IRE) and Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) for mining ilmenite in three blocks in the Chavara area of Kollam district.

The project was announced by Indian Prime Minister A B Vajpayee at the Global Investors Meet (GIM) in Kochi in January 2003. To facilitate the project, the Kerala government will have to grant land-leasing rights to the joint venture for 20 years instead of the normal two years.

The state government has also urged the central government to impose anti-dumping duty on cheap imports of titanium dioxide pigment from China and Poland, says Kunhalikutty. "The pigment is the main ingredient in making paints."

Kunhalikutty says the state public sector Kerala Minerals and Metals (KMML) will increase its titanium dioxide pigment capacity from 22,000 TPA to 100,000 TPA by 2007-08 in a phased manner. "KMML, the only Indian producer of rutile-grade titanium dioxide pigment, will enhance its manufacturing capacity of this from the current 30,000 TPA to 165,000 TPA by 2006-07."

KMML, an ISO-9002-certified company, is presently exporting to 17 countries, including the US, the UK and China. "By the time its expansion projects are over, KMML will be exporting 65 per cent of its products, he says.

The company won several awards in the past one year, including the Productivity Award from the National Productivity Council and the Best Revenue Performance Award from the Central Board of Excise. Last month, it bagged the Asia Pacific Coatings Show Global Award for best marketing campaign.