The Financial Express

Country's lone granite mine remains shut with 'tiny' stock

Contractor refuses to work over corona fear

| Updated: July 05, 2020 10:36:35

Country's lone granite mine remains shut with 'tiny' stock

Contractor's apathy has pushed the country's lone hard rock mine at Madhya Para under Parbatipur upazila in Dinajpur 'unproductive' over past several months.

The stock of hard rocks of several sizes has already run out while the remaining rocks will also be sold out within one month, managing director of state-run Madhyapara Granite Mining Company Ltd, or MGMCL, A B M Kamruzzaman told the FE.

The country's ongoing infrastructure development activities may face a setback, if production remains suspended for long, sector insiders said.

"It is unfortunate that despite having huge demand, we shall not be able to supply rocks to buyers," Mr. Kamruzzman said.

Before the countrywide shutdown, the Germania-Trest Consortium, or GTC, was operating the mine in full swing.

"When the shutdown was over, we requested the GTC to resume operation maintaining the government's safety and hygiene guidelines but they denied," he said.

The GTC has shown reluctance to resume operation showing the cause of the coronavirus pandemic, he added.

Currently, the MGMCL does not have a stock of 5.0-40 millimeter, or mm, size and boulder-size rocks.

It only has 40-80mm sized rocks, which may also finish within one month due to mounting demand.

Before the shutdown, the GTC, a consortium of Bangladesh-based Germania Corporation Ltd and Belarus-based JSC Trest Shakhtos Petsstroy, was operating the hard rock mine following the intervention of the court although its management of operation, development, production and maintenance of the mine expired on February 14, 2020.

Before the expiry of its contract tenure, the GTC extracted granite stones to the tune of around 3.75 million tonnes during its six-year deal period since February 14, 2014.

But as per the contract, the GTC had to extract around 9.2 million tonnes of granite during the period.

Officials said the Madhya para hard rock mine was struggling to lure potential buyers until 2019, although the country's overall demand for minerals is skyrocketing.

MGMCL was toiling to sell annually around 1.6 million tonnes of granite stones, whereas the country's overall hard rock import is annually over 20 million tonnes.

Despite better quality, the MGMCL's granite stones had remained stockpiled, as the buyers opt for importing 'lower grade' stones from different countries, including neighbouring India, Bhutan, Vietnam and Dubai, industry insiders opined.

Even after lowering the prices of different-sized stones by MGMCL several times. it also had 'failed' to lure buyers to pick state-owned stones.

But several steps taken recently including mandatory use of MGMCL stone by Bangladesh Railway helped increase its stone sales, said the MGMCL top brass.

Bangladesh imported around 21 million tonnes of hard rock during the fiscal year (FY) 2018-19, which was about 46 per cent higher than that of the previous FY's 13.6 million tonnes.

Different state-owned enterprises and their subsidiaries, including Bangladesh Railway, Bangladesh Water Development Board, Public Works Department, Bridges Division, Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, and Roads and Highways, are the main buyers of hard rock across the country.

Different real estate companies and industries of private sector also import granite stones, but the quantity is not that significant.

The state-run Geological Survey of Bangladesh discovered hard rock 136 metres under the ground at Madhyapara in 1974.

The Madhyapara mine area spans over 1.2 square kilometres, and has a reserve of around 174 million tonnes of hard rock and granite.

North Korean company Namnam prepared and developed the mine in 2006 after working for over 12 years under supplier's credit.


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