Boom times loom for Indian market

PERTH-based company Australian Indian Resources is embarking on a venture promoted as being at the forefront of the world’s largest mining boom.

The project coincides with predictions of significant domestic market growth in India and forecasts of rising world mineral prices from 2003.

Encouraged by the presence of both Rio Tinto and BHP in the region, AIR chairman and executive director Mr Charles Devenish maintains India’s legal system and pool of technical expertise bode well for the country becoming one of the economic and political giants of the 21st century.

Armed with 4000 years of recorded metal production, geological data from British administrative times and the more recent Geological Survey of India, Mr Devenish is forecasting initial success with gold, nickel and zinc projects in India.

“The region has been virtually untouched since 1947, and was previously explored on very small budgets, so what we’re looking at is a completely virgin mineral-rich country. It’s very easy to follow what’s gone on before, so it’s literally being delivered on a plate,” Mr Devenish said.

Through an issue of shares in unlisted AIR division Rama Mines, AIR is seeking to raise A$1.6 million to invest in its Indian exploration tenements.

The offer, to close at the end of June, will allow AIR to initially drill a major gold project and to acquire, via incorporation into an offshore investment company in Mauritius, Indian gold companies to list on the Mumbai Stock Exchange.

To raise additional funds for projects undertaken by the Mumbai-listed company, AIR will offer 40 per cent of the Indian entity to Indian investors.

Mr Devenish is particularly optimistic about the company’s proposed gold ventures.

With a large middle class already purchasing US$6 billion of imported gold annually and making 1,000,000 trades per day on the Mumbai Stock Exchange, and 40 million stock traders throughout India’s exchanges, Mr Devenish is forecasting women gold-buyers will be particularly keen to purchase shares in gold companies.

A mini-survey of such women has convinced Mr Devenish they are prepared to borrow capital and sell other non-gold assets to invest in potentially lucrative gold ventures.

“With careful promotion, these women will drive the market, one with enormous investor potential. We’re tapping into between 300 and 400 million gold-addicted Indians,” Mr Devenish said.

With India importing all its nickel, Mr Devenish can likewise see “great potential” for AIR with this metal.

“There have been some very interesting ‘sniffs’,” he said. “That will be our next great effort after gold.”

The company also has interests in a Kolari zinc prospect, with a proven eight million-tonne seven per cent zinc resource. The prospect has never been drilled to the 300 metre depth deemed necessary to determine true zinc reservoirs, and is now estimated to be capable of producing 40 million tonnes.

In a strategic move, Mr Devenish is forming an Indian mining foundation to facilitate capital flow to mining companies willing to develop facilities to support sustained economic development in local communities. Using personal equity to establish the foundation, Mr Devenish envisages the fund will attract sufficient investment to allow mining companies to install twice the power and water requirements needed for mining operations, hence supporting other cottage industries and mini economies in local communities.

Through subsidiaries and joint ventures, AIR holds 60 tenements covering 36,000 square kilometres in eight Indian states.

“It’s India’s turn for a speculative boom to increase investment,” Mr Devenish said.

Association of Mining and Exploration Companies chief executive officer Mr George Savell said India’s government and mining services companies were promoting India’s mining reserves.

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