For gold, Vedanta has four mining blocks – three near Chandrapur in Maharashtra and one near Raipur in Chhattisgarh. The company has received Stage 2 or final clearance from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for the Chhattisgarh block, Sunil Duggal, the chief executive of Vedanta told ET.
“We are about to start drilling. This mine has a potential of 60 million tonnes of R&R (reserves and resources) with around 1-1.2% of copper and 2 million ounces of gold,” Duggal said. “The real story will be known once we start drilling.”
Drilling is the process wherein samples are drilled from different depths beneath the surface to analyse the contents. In Maharashtra, the company has started drilling at one of the mines and discovered between 0.5-1% of copper concentration and “good” traces of gold, Duggal said. Forest clearance has been granted for a second mine in the state and drilling will start there soon, he said.
The company expects to get drilling permission for its third mine in Maharashtra in the next couple of months.
While the parent company is looking to strike gold, subsidiary Hindustan Zinc is working overtime to increase its silver production. The company recovers silver as a by-product during lead production. However, it prioritised the production of zinc over the past year at the expense of lead because zinc prices were shooting through the roof while lead prices were largely flat. Subsequently, silver production dropped by 8% in FY22 to 647 tonnes.
“That’s a constant battler we have,” Arun Misra, the chief executive of Hindustan Zinc told ET. “Because if we produce less zinc, that commensurate value has to be recovered from lead and silver. So, the first priority remains producing more and more zinc.”