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Steel Minister inaugurates Silica Reduction Plant Project at SAIL-Bhilai Steel Plant’s Dalli Mines

Union Minister for Steel and Civil Aviation, Sh. Jyotiraditya M. Scindia, inaugurated the Silica Reduction Plant at Steel Authority of India Limited's (SAIL) Bhilai Steel Plant's Dalli Mines today. The virtual inauguration ceremony was attended by several dignitaries including Union Minister of State for Steel Sh. Faggan Singh Kulaste, Member of Parliament from Kanker (Chhattisgarh) Sh. Mohan Mandavi, Secretary of the Ministry of Steel Sh. Nagendra Nath Sinha, Chairman of SAIL Sh. Amarendu Prakash, and other officials from the Steel Ministry and SAIL.

During his speech, Union Minister Sh. Jyotiraditya Scindia praised the strength of the Indian steel industry and its significant role in positioning India as a global economic powerhouse. He emphasized the industry's contribution to employment generation and the development of foundational infrastructure in the country.

The minister quoted the National Steel Policy (NSP) 2017, highlighting the government's aim to achieve a target of 300 million tonnes (MT) of crude steel production by 2030 under the guidance of the honorable Prime Minister. India currently holds the second position in global steel production, surpassing Japan in 2018. The country also leads the world in sponge iron production, and its crude steel capacity has grown by 46%, from 110 MT to 160 MT, in the last nine years.

Furthermore, the minister noted the government's focus on infrastructure development, resulting in increased steel consumption from 77 MT to 120 MT. Per capita steel consumption has also risen by 50% from 60 kg in 2014 to 87 kg. India has achieved the vision of Aatmanirbharta (self-reliance) by transitioning from being a net steel importer to a net exporter within the past nine years.

Sh. Jyotiraditya Scindia emphasized the emergence of the steel sector as a powerful force in India and acknowledged the crucial role played by Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) in this development. He stated that SAIL would play a prominent role in India's journey towards progress. During the inauguration, he highlighted the uniqueness of the plant, which possesses the capability to produce the world's longest single rail measuring 130 meters. Currently, the plant has a production capacity of 6 MT of crude steel per year, with plans to increase it to 6.8 MT in the near future.

The Bhilai Plant, established 64 years ago, has been heavily reliant on Dalli-Rajhara Iron Ore Mines for its input feedstock. However, more than 80% of the reserves from these mines have been utilized. The remaining reserves have a high silica content of about 8.5-10% and a ferrous content of less than 55%, negatively impacting blast furnace productivity and increasing coke consumption. To address this issue, the minister stated that until the Rowghat mine becomes fully operational, the Bhilai Plant would require approximately 13.5 MT of good quality iron ore annually, sourced from the Dalli Rajhara group of mines. Therefore, there was a need to improve the quality of the input material from these mines.

Sh. Jyotiraditya Scindia explained that the current Crushing, Screening, and Washing (CSW) system in place for the beneficiation of low-grade iron ore is not effective. After conducting research and pilot projects, it was decided to upgrade the plant with the latest technology at a cost of about ₹148.82 crore. This upgrade will enhance the quality of iron ore fines by increasing the ferrous content from 55-59% to 62-64%, thereby reducing the silica content by 2%.

The minister also highlighted SAIL's expansion plan, which aims to increase its capacity from the current 19.5 MT to 35.24 MT in the next 7-8 years. The plan includes a capital expenditure of about ₹1.1 lakh crore, with approximately ₹11,000 crore allocated for augmenting existing facilities and ₹1 lakh crore for greenfield expansion. Additionally, ancillary facilities such as an Oxygen Plant, Pellet Plant, and Ore Beneficiation units will be established on a Built Operate Own (BOO)/Construct Operate Maintain (COM) model. The plan also involves mechanization and modernization of mines and ancillaries with the latest technology.

The minister emphasized that investments in the steel sector have a significant multiplier effect on employment and output, leading to job creation and overall development in the country. He also highlighted SAIL's contributions to important infrastructure projects such as the Bhupen Hazarika Bridge, Atal Tunnel, Central Vista, and INS Vikrant, where SAIL's steel has been utilized.

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