The state-owned rock producer Maddhapara Granite Mining Company (MGMCL) is slowly coming back to life as it now produces 5,000 tonnes of rock per day.
The mining company of Petrobangla located in Parbatipur of Dinajpur produced just 261 tonnes in the first 24 hours of August 13, the day it reopened following a 140-day hiatus due to the pandemic.
Germania Trest Consortium (GTC), the contracting company for production, maintenance and development at the mine, produced 3.5 lakh tonnes of hard rock as of Monday since August 13, said ABM Kamaruzzaman, managing director of MGMCL.
"However, the Covid-19 outbreak could not stop the sales of rock from the mine as the company sold around 9 lakh tonnes of rock worth Tk 225 crore since April."
"We were also able to hand over Tk 3 crore in tax to the national exchequer and all the credit goes to the officials and miners of GTC," he said.
Some mega projects in the country are using the rock produced by MGMCL, said Kamaruzzaman.
"The Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, Bangladesh Railway, Bangladesh Water Development Board and many private organisations use our rocks as building material," he added.
MGMCL also delivers stone for building the rail link on Padma bridge and Bangabandhu bridge and many state-run organisations also expressed their willingness to use MGMCL's rocks in their development projects, he said.
"The country needs around 70 lakh tonnes of rock annually and we have the capacity to supply over 10 lakh tonnes a year if production goes smoothly."
The 800 local and 70 Russian miners GTC handles remained unpaid from March 24 to August 12 this year as no rock was produced during that period. The jobless miners eventually started agitating at the mine gate.
Later, production resumed with all the miners except 20 who tested positive for Covid-19 when MGMCL and GTC jointly tested all officials, staffers and miners of both companies.
In 2019, the mine booked profits for the first time since the beginning its official production in 2007 under the contract of Namnam, a North Korean company.
On February 20 in 2014, GTC started production at the mine after MGMCL signed a six-year contract with the company in 2013.
As per the contract, the company had to produce 92,000 tonnes of rock in the next six years. However, the company extracted only 37,000 tonnes, falling a long way behind the target.
The relationship between the officials of MGMCL and GTC deteriorated over various issues, which affected the production and sales from the mine.
The frequent change of managing directors was one of the major reasons for the falling business of the mine, according to a report of a seven-member committee that Petrobangla formed to find out the reasons behind the crisis.
Things started to improve in November last year when ABM Kamruzzaman, a geologist and former general manager of Barapukuria Coal Mining Company in Parbatipur upazila, joined MGMCL as managing director.
Meanwhile, the six-year contract with GTC ended on February 20 this year and later, the company got a one-year extension under the direct procurement method in a bid to keep rock production running.
Under the new contract, which ends on July 13 next year, the company is supposed to produce 11.10 lakh tonnes of hard rock and develop two stopes.
Jabed Siddiqui, general manager of GTC, said ensuring continued production amid the pandemic was the biggest challenge for them.
"Luckily, no miner got infected with Covid-19 since the resumption of work on August 13," he added.