Tasmania to help Vedanta restart copper mine

New Delhi, Sep 6 (IANS) The Tasmanian government will help Anil Agrawal-promoted Vedanta restart a copper mine, operations in which were suspended two years ago, the Australian state’s premier has said.

“The operation of the mine has gone into care and maintenance mode and we hope will re-open in 2017 with state support and we can provide assistance to ensure they can continue to operate the mine in the future,” Premier Will Hodgman, who is leading a Tasmanian trade mission to India that include former cricketers Ricky Ponting and David Boon, told IANS here.

His comments come even as news is circulating about Vedanta planning to invest up to Rs. 3,000 crore ($450 million) in its Indian copper operations to double the capacity to 800,000 tonnes.

Operations at Mt Lyell copper mine on Tasmania’s west coast were suspended in 2014 after two maintenance workers fell to their deaths in December 2013 and another worker was killed in an underground mud rush one-and-a-half months later.

The mine is run by Vedanta’s subsidiary, Copper Mines of Tasmania.

Describing copper as a valuable commodity, Hodgman said that the mine has 200 million tonnes of reserves with an annual 100,000 tonne output. “It is a sizable operation and at its peak could employ well over 300 Tasmanians,” he said.

“So it is an important opportunity for us to demonstrate our support to Vedanta, the Copper Mines of Tasmania.”

The trade mission, the first such from Tasmania, is here to promote the state in India across multiple sectors, including tourism, education, skill development and renewable energy

“It (Tasmania) has a very clean and pristine environment with high-value agriculture, aquaculture and fine foods and beverages including wines, beers and whiskies,” Hodgman said.

“So, it is a very important first step for us to make those connections and to establish a foothold in one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing economies.”

He said that following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Tasmania in November 2014, the number of Chinese tourists to the state has grown dramatically.

“We do get a sizable number of Indians coming to Tasmania as tourists and also as students, but the growth hasn’t been dramatic,” Hodgman said.

A member of the delegation, Minister of State for Growth Matthew Groom, who also holds the skill development portfolio, meanwhile met with his Indian counterpart, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, here on Monday in connection with the Skill India initiative.

Hodgman said that he wanted more Indian students to come to Tasmania, “to our university, to one of our training organisations, or to one of our schools, and to exchange expertise in training, to collaborate where we can achieve mutual benefits and to explore ways that we can seemingly provide support and expertise to India, to assist in your skills agenda”.

He said that there are around 700 Indian students in the University of Tasmania comprising 40 percent of the international students “which is not where it should be”.

After New Delhi, the Tasmanian trade mission will also visit Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram.

(Aroonim Bhuyan can be contacted at aroonim.b@ians.in)

–IANS

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