NRE's Australian mine goes onstream
(Mercury News, September 27, 2005)
When an Indian
coal boss sent home a photo of this mine, they thought he
must be on holiday
Coal chief Arun Jagatramka and his wife Mona at the opening
of the Gujarat NRE coal mine at Russell Vale yesterday
SHAREHOLDERS of a major
Indian company wondered if the directors were on holiday when
shown a photograph of a Wollongong mine they were considering
Gujarat NRE Australia Chairman Arun Kumar Jagatramka responded
by saying the city was so beautiful every day was like a holiday.
"Welcome to the mine with the best view in the world,"
he said yesterday, producing the photo at the official launch
of NRE No1 Colliery at Russell Vale.
Mr Jagatramka told 150 guests that Gujarat NRE Australia had
employed almost 100 people at the mine and planned to provide
work for another 175 at its other mine at Avondale over the
next five years. The company has invested $30 million in the
region and plans to invest another $75 million during the
next three years.
The subsidiary of India's largest metallurgical coke producer,
Gujarat NRE Coke Limited, took over the colliery in December.
Avondale mine will be renamed NRE Avondale and reopened within
Mr Jagatramka said rail transport needed to be addressed before
production could begin.
"We are developing it absolutely as a new mine. Our next
thing is a rail loop or a siding on top of the escarpment
... so we are not-hauling coal by road," he said.
Gujarat NRE Australia is also looking at other mining opportunities
in the region to produce more coal for power generation and
steel making in India.
Minister for the Illawarra David Campbell welcomed the 100
jobs the company was creating in producing one million metric
tonnes of coal a year.
"There will be flow-ons to engineering workshops and
other suppliers," he said.
"It is all export so it is more ships coming to the port.
It adds strength to the port and the coal terminal."
"The company will wash the coal in India where it is
building a mini steel mill."
Flanked by former premiers
Bob Carr and Neville Wran, Mr Campbell revealed how the two
men had influenced his career.
He recalled that 25 years ago he was unsuccessful in a job
interview at the oldest operating mine in Australia.
But he became a miner for a few minutes yesterday switching
on a conveyor belt to bring Indian-bound coal to the surface.
Mine Workers Union vice president Graeme White said all the
jobs at the mine had been filled locally.
He said Gujarat NRE had employed a good blend of people who
had formerly worked in the industry, some who had returned
from Queensland and new people being trained to enter the
"For the mining industry down here it is great news.
They have still got some upgrading to do over at the No4 mine
shaft area but once they do that this place will be a very
viable mine in the future," he said.
Wollongong Lord Mayor Alex Darling, Illawarra Business Chamber
president Terry Wetherall and Illawarra Regional Development
Board chairman Gary Langton all said it was important to look
at India as a place to do business.
''Wollongong City Council will have to look hard and long
at India and making contacts with the Indian people,"
Cr Darling said.
Indian Consul-General M Ganapathy said his country needed
coal and other minerals from Australia in large volumes.
Mr Carr said the transformation of the Indian economy was
good news for Australia and the Illawarra and he was confident
the Wollongong workforce would make the most of the opportunity.