India’s mining industry is open for business.
An Indian delegation visited Sudbury on October 27 seeking foreign investment and information about Canada’s mining and mineral industry.
The 20-person team toured CVRD Inco’s Copper Cliff North and Stobie Mines and MIRARCO’s Virtual Reality Lab. An evening reception allowed for presentations and networking with government and mining industry officials and a group of mining supply and service company representatives.
During the last few years, India’s gross domestic product has been growing at a rapid rate of eight per cent and the country is widely viewed as an emerging global player. Power and mining are two key sectors, according to a November 2006 report by the Canada India Business Council.
India’s mining and mineral sector produces ferrous and non-ferrous metals (aluminium, copper, zinc, manganese), as well as coal, gems and diamonds.
India is a major consumer of gold, iron ore, coal, limestone and zinc and the eighth largest producer of iron ore.
There is a strong Australian presence in the country and multinationals such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are exploring for minerals.
Michael Winship, CVRD Inco’s vice president of mines and mill, Ontario Operations, puts India in the same league as China, Russia and Brazil, all of which are industrializing at a rapid rate and driving the demand for commodities.
The Government of India’s Secretary of Mines, A.K.D. Jadhav, said India would like to foster and consolidate a relationship between the two countries.
Amendments to the Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation Act of 1957 are expected to be passed in Parliament by April 2007 and to attract
domestic and foreign investment.
Ravi Kastia, president and business head of the Aditya Birla Group, a mining advisory organization, said a committee of 23 stakeholders has been working on the policy changes necessary to spur growth in the industry.
R.K. Sharma, secretary general of the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries, described Indian mining as inward looking prior to revisions made to the National Mineral Policy in the ’90s. The foreign direct investment limit was 40 per cent, the nationalization of the country’s coal mines in the early ’70s stunted foreign investment and high tariffs protected local industry from foreign competition.
Restrictions on foreign direct investment have been eliminated for all minerals, including diamonds and precious stones. In the 2006 budget, tariffs were reduced on ore, concentrate and many mineral products.
Sharma said India mines a number of minerals, but is short of gold, lead, zinc, copper and nickel. The country is looking to Canada, the world’s finance capital for mining, to invest in exploration and development.
“We also know that we have diamonds,” he said. “We want to use technology from Canada to be self-sufficient as soon as possible.”
India’s domestic supply and equipment sector needs to be developed in combination with the development of human resources, he added.
Kastia said prospecting and mining skills in Canada are much more advanced than in India.
“We want to learn about Canada’s mining sector, your technology, and how government and the private sector work together to create strategies for successful mining practices.”
Risk capital and the Toronto Stock Exchange were of interest to the delegation. “We are inspired by the Canadian model where you have juniors and prospectors who are independents that stand alone . an industry in their own right.”
Indira Singh, executive director of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines’ Ontario Mineral Industry Cluster Council, said Ontario has an opportunity to be proactive and take the lead in developing a business relationship