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India's NMDC to increase output from Panna diamond mines

22 october 2009

India's National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) said it plans to increase production of diamonds at existing mines, but for financial reasons will not start new exploration projects, Antwerpfacetsonline reported.
“We will not take up further exploration for diamonds, as the business involves a long gestation period," NMDC Chairman and Managing Director Rana Som told Business Line. "Instead, we will consolidate production at our existing mines.”
The company recently recommenced mining at the Panna diamond reserves in Madhya Pradesh, following conditional approval from the country's high court.
The court ordered NMDC to pay a sum to the Madhya Pradesh government for re-opening Asia’s only mechanised diamond mine. The Panna mines were closed four years ago because of environmental issues related to an adjoining wildlife sanctuary.
Som said although the Panna mines are currently being operated on a one-shift schedule, it soon it will be increased to three shifts.
“At present, our production is about 4,000-5,000 carats a month. After the resumption of the three-shift schedule, we will be producing one lakh (100,000) carats per annum. By the last quarter of the current fiscal, we will reach this annualised capacity — in other words we will be mining 25,000 carats in that quarter,” he said.
“More than mining, it is screening that is both tedious and expensive. We barely get some two grams of diamonds from [every] 100 tonnes of materials mined,” he pointed out.
NMDC had earlier looked into diamond exploring at sites in Andhra Pradesh province, and three other projects in Madhya Pradesh.