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Lafarge Project Hits Limestone Hurdle

Published by MAC on 2005-11-29
Source: The Telegraph ()

Lafarge project hits limestone hurdle

The Telegraph (Calcutta) Jamshedpur

29th November 2005

French cement major Lafarge’s plan to start a Greenfield project in Jharkhand has run into rough weather due to the non-availability of the required grade of limestone in the state though government sources claim otherwise.

Sources in the company said a deposit of cement grade limestone, which could be mined, is yet to be identified in Jharkhand but added that the Greenfield project could be set up in any of the 22 districts and plans for further expansion are also on the anvil.

State government officials, though, refused to buy Lafarge’s theory on the non-availability of cement grade limestone. Mines and geology secretary A.K. Singh said the required limestone was available in Chaibasa and Palamau districts but Lafarge had not apprised the government of their plans. “Let them come to us first, then we will extend all possible help in identifying the mine able deposits of cement grade limestone,” he said.

Industry sources observed that many cement companies in Jharkhand were facing similar problems. Though the limestone is available in certain pockets, they added, the quality was of an inferior kind and running a Greenfield project with that kind of deposits would be difficult.

The sources further said good quality limestone is available at Satna in Madhya Pradesh, Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh and Chandoria in Rajasthan, but for Lafarge to procure it from these places would be an expensive proposition as the price of cement grade limestone is often fluctuating.

Industry observers said a large cement plant generally requires huge capital investment, large cement grade limestone deposits and other infrastructure facilities. However, they added, there are a number of low- to- high-grade limestone generating resources, like small and scattered deposits and usable grades from steel industries, which are not adequate for setting up a cement plant of the size proposed by the overseas-based manufacturer.

Apart from cement manufacturing, the company is also providing masonry training to the unemployed youths in Jharkhand. Company sources said training of the first batch of 40 has been completed at Bahragora and a majority of these candidates have found employment with prominent builders and contractors. Training for the second batch of 50 commenced earlier this month.

Lafarge is now trying to identify more areas, apart from masonry, where employment potentials exist with the possibility of training village youth to become skilled and qualified specialist.

Though Lafarge launched its Indian operations only in 1999, by taking over the cement division of Tata Steel, it is currently the leader in the eastern Indian cement market. Later, the steel major developed three cement plants — two in Chhattisgarh and one in Jharkhand.

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