The lone hard rock mine in Bangladesh suspended production on March 26 as part of the virus-led shutdown
After a four-month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Maddhyapara Granite Mining Company Ltd is going to resume production soon.
The deal with the hard rock lifting Belarus-based Germania Trest Consortium (GTC) has already been extended by one year. Authorities said the workers have returned to their posts and the rock lifting would resume soon after completing some required measures.
Abu Taleb Mohammad Farazi, the general manager of the Maddhyapara Granite Mining Company Ltd (MGMCL), said the workers would enter the mine from Friday after undergoing a Covid-19 test.
Meantime, Jamil Ahmed, general manager of GTC, said the one-year deal extension will be counted from the first day of rock lifting.
The production suspension at the mine left its 800 workers jobless, and interrupted the rock supply to the Padma Bridge and Ruppur Nuclear Power Plant projects.
MGMCL went on commercial production at the lone rock mine of the country in 2007. At the initial stage, 1500-1800 tonnes of rock was lifted per day from the mine which later dropped to 500 tonnes only.
Against the backdrop of dropped production, GTC was appointed in 2014 for rock mining and maintenance of the site. According to the agreement, GTC will get $171.86 million for 92 lakh tonnes of mined rock while the MGMCL will be responsible for supplying the mining equipment and other items.
According to GTC estimation, mining was suspended for 47 months due to the lack of cooperation by MGMCL.
The state-run Geological Survey of Bangladesh discovered hard rock 128 meters under the ground at Maddhyapara, Parbatipur in Dinajpur district in 1974.
The Madhhyapara mine area spans over 1.2 square kilometres and has a reserve of around 174 million tonnes of hard rock and granite.
Korean company Namnam prepared and developed the mine in 2006 after working over 12 years under Korean supplier's credit.
Workers staged demo
During the mine closure, the workers staged several demonstrations for reopening production, clearing arrears pay, 5 percent salary hike, risk allowance, introducing four shifts and bringing the workers under a life insurance scheme.
Workers have returned to production after negotiations with the authorities. Maddhyapara Mining Workers Union President Khorshed Alam said the authorities have assured them that the demands will be met gradually.
Deputy General Manager of MGMCL Abdul Majed said, "At the initial stage of hard rock mining, 320 workers used to lift stone in one shift. After the deal with GTC, the production rose to the highest 6,000 tonnes a day. Now more than 800 workers mine stones in three shifts here."