KIOCL Ltd (formerly Kudremukh Iron Ore Ltd) plans to set up a rare earth joint venture project with SAIL in Kerala.

The proposed joint venture is likely to rope in certain State Government units also.

“We have just expressed our interest in the project along with SAIL”, a senior official of KIOCL told Business Line . He added that the joint venture could also rope in some State Government units.

The Union Ministry of Steel, the administrative Ministry for both KIOCL and SAIL, is understood to be involved in the deliberations on the project proposal.

Govt intervention

In January, the Steel Secretary, in a letter to the Kerala Chief Secretary, sought the State Government’s intervention in recommending “suitable mineral rights” in the State for the proposed venture.

The State units that may be involved in the proposed project include Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation and Kerala Mineral Development Corporation.

Last September, KIOCL had first announced to the Kerala government its intention of taking up a titanium mining and mineral separation project.

In October, as a follow-up, the CMD of KIOCL, the Additional Secretary and Financial Advisor to the Steel Ministry, and a Director of SAIL had met the Kerala Chief Minister.

Pelletisation plant

The proposal to involve State Government units in the proposed project was also considered at the meeting, sources said.

An MoU was signed in September 2011 between KIOCL and KSIDC for iron-ore mining and the setting up of beneficiation and pelletisation plants in the Kasargod or Kozhikode districts of the State.

However, KSIDC informed KIOCL in February last year that no iron-ore bearing area was available for exploitation in Kozhikode.

KSIDC, in consultation with the State Directorate of Mines and Geology, was exploring possibilities to identify the iron-ore bearing area in Kasaragod, KIOCL was told at the time.