Geography / History
as seen from Askot
In addition to points previously reviewed, the following are relevant to future considerations of a mine at Askot:
- A future mine would be an underground operation, not an open-pit mine. This has two advantages: a tiny footprint in an environmentally sensitive region, and a cost-advantage unavailable in the West owing to India's low-cost labor.
- The site has abundant water for drilling, processing, camp use and, if needed, hydroelectric plants in the 5 to 20 megawatt range.
- The area is serviced by the existing electric grid from the plains. Moreover a net 280 MW hydroelectric project is now on line at Dauliganga, a short distance in the mountains beyond Askot. The transmission line to the plains passes within 2 km of the Askot site. A substation serving the project and local community could be put on the line. Uttaranchal has the lowest cost electricity in India.
- Solid engineering, construction and fabricating skills are available in India and the region, at lower cost than in North America and Europe.
- There is enough labor in the region.
- Indian law provides for secure mineral title.
- Indian law provides for repatriation of profits.
- Royalties payable to government are high but not unreasonably so.
- The climate is temperate.
- The northern boundary of the Mining Lease is a hard surfaced, all-weather road, a National Highway maintained by the BRO (Border Roads Organization). This provides easy communication with the plains areas.
- The Askot area is free of public unrest and ethnic conflict.
- Indian copper smelters are within 400 km of the rail head; zinc and lead smelters within 800 km.
- Deep-water ports on both east and west coasts are within 1,200 km of the rail head.
- There are smelters and refineries for copper, zinc and lead concentrates in the Persian Gulf, China and other nearby countries. Ocean shipping is inexpensive owing to the volume of two-way traffic and the short distances.
- India is a large, rich, industrialized country that constitutes a major metals market.
(Updated June 17, 2009)