India’s MOIL Ltd. (formerly Manganese Ore India Ltd.) will double its manganese production from the current level of 1.13 million mt/y by adding mineable land and upgrading existing operations to meet a predicted shortage of the metal in the country.

MOIL, which accounts for 65% of India’s manganese production, has been granted prospecting licenses on 597 hectares in the western state of Maharashtra, in close proximity to the miner’s existing 11 mines in the region, a company official said, noting that with the additional acreage, along with startup of a new production shaft at a nearby mine, MOIL would be able to double its production over the next three to four years.

The expansion plans of MOIL comes in wake of warnings of a severe shortage of manganese in the domestic market raised by the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM), the government’s multidisciplinary body overseeing the mineral sector. According to a report prepared by IBM, given the total combined production of manganese by companies such as MOIL, Tata, Orissa Mining Corp. (OMC) and Sandur, including current and future expansion projects, the country’s domestic supply of manganese would not exceed 5 million mt/y compared with total projected demand of 9 million mt/y by 2020 from the domestic steel industry.

The report stated that at a consumption rate of 9 million mt/y run-of-mine (ROM) manganese ore, India’s current estimated reserves of 142 million mt would last only 10–15 years beyond 2020. And with no secondary supply of the metal through recycling, additional metal would have to be made available through imports unless domestic mining dynamics were changed.

With high-grade manganese ore reserves dwindling and revision of the threshold value of manganese ore to 10% metal content, the mining industry is obliged to exploit lower-grade manganese ore that is now considered waste, the IBM report concluded.