Astra Resources has secured the first of four trading licences covering the main iron ore producing regions in Orissa. The licences allow Astra to trade and transport self-mined and third party mined iron ore to Paradip Port for export from the company’s storage and shipping site.
Astra’s CEO Dr Jaydeep Biswas says securing this licence, which covers the Koira District, in the city of Suhdargarh, to Paradip Port, is a major milestone for Astra. “Astra can begin trading iron ore from third parties into the international market while further developing our own mining operations for domestic use and export.
“We are in the process of securing the remaining three licences which will enable Astra to transform its land at Paradip Port into a major iron ore export hub. The remaining three licences are in the districts of Jajpur, Sundergarh and Keonjhar.”
Although Orissa has a long coastline of 480km, Paradip is the major all-weather port, with expansion plans only enhancing the accessibility of the port to internal and external exports. Paradip has its own railway system and is connected to East Coast Railways and various other highways, enabling iron ore to be transferred to the port for storage and export with ease.
Work to modernize the existing port infrastructure has been agreed to, which will include deepening the approach and entrance channel, enhancing the draught at existing docks and extending the existing iron ore berth. There are also plans to install two 20 tonne shore cranes and improve national rail links to Paradip.
Astra’s managing director Silvana De Cianni says Astra’s land at Paradip Port is large enough to trade and ship about 200,000 to 400,000 tonnes of iron ore a month, bringing a substantial income stream into the company. “Orissa has some of the largest iron ore reserves in the world and does not have the same infrastructure issues as mining in many other places.
“Once trading conditions become fully regulated Orissa will become a huge player in the international iron ore market. Orissa has unlimited potential and will garner a lot of momentum as it is close to China, who are a potential customer for the high grade iron ore reserves, meaning freight costs are lower and profits will in turn be higher,” she says.
The trading licence allows Astra to procure iron ore in the specified area and transport it to Paradip where it can be exported. Astra has already been granted an export licence.