Rio Tinto’s Bunder Project Faces New Hurdles

New Delhi: Global mining giant Rio Tinto’s Rs 2,200 crore project to mine diamonds in MP’s Chhatarpur district has hit a green roadblock though it has the support of the state government, reports The Economic Times.

The project that involves diversion of near 1000 hectares of dense forests to yield possibly a diamond deposit of 34.2 million carat value was red flagged by the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC), the apex body in the environment ministry, which has to approve projects in forest areas.

At a meeting on November 24, FAC is learnt to have raised a number of queries on the project as it involved felling of about 4.92 lakh trees and hugely impacting forest area that is also a tiger corridor between the Panna Tiger Reserve and the Navardehi Wildlife Sanctuary and home to species like the monitor lizard, Indian rumped vulture, sloth bear, leopards and the Indian gazelle.

“The project is being supported by the state government but also has considerably environmental and ecological implications as it involves diversion of quite a big forest area and a densely forested area at that. The committee has raised queries on these issues and the efficacy of the mitigation plan and other aspects that need to be satisfied before any final decision”, a FAC member told ET.

“We have given all approvals to Rio Tinto for the project. The diamond mining project is only awaiting forest clearance from the Centre,” an official in the Madhya Pradesh government told ET.

At the Bunder mine, the estimated deposit of kimberlitic ore is 53.7 million ton and that of diamonds is 34.2 million carat as per the project details submitted to the environment ministry. The project cost is estimated at Rs 2,200 crore while the current mineral value is estimated to be Rs 20,520 crores.