Published: Wednesday 30 September 1998

DAM FAILURE: Boliden, a Canadian mining company, blamed falling metal prices and costs associated with a dam rupture for the company's second-quarter loss. Pre-tax losses were $52.1 million compared with restated earnings of $19.7 million in the same time last year. The dam failure at the Los Frailes zinc mine operated by its subsidiary Apirsa cost the company $34 million. About four million cubic metre of acidic water and more than one million cubic metre of tailings were discharged into a nearby river, threatening the environmental reserve and damaging farmland.

WATER PURIFIER: Membrane Technologies Ltd (MTL) launched a domestic water purifier system, NiL-B, in Chennai recently. Nil-B utilises the state-of-art hollow fibre ultrafilter membrane for purifying water. Priced at Rs 5,995, the product is already on sale in Singapore, Malaysia and Australia, and will be soon launched in the US. MTL is jointly promoted by Titanium Equipment and Anode Manufacturing Company Ltd and Singapore-based Membrane Research Technology Singapore Ltd. The manufacturing facility has been set up in Chennai with an investment of Singapore $50 lakhs.

RURAL LINKS: The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will be finalising the choice of technology for a rural satellite telephone network soon. It has decided to either opt for a Inmarsat service or set up an indigenous system. The decision has been pending for a long time now. If the DoT delays the decision again, the Inmarsat system may no longer be an option since the validity of a special tariff dispensation from the Inmarsat board is due to expire. The final choice will depend on the size of the network.

RAIN CALCINING: Rain Calcining Ltd (RCL), a Rs 350 crore company with facilities to manufacture three lakh tonne of calcined petroleum coke per annum (CPC), will be making its first export shipment of 16,000 tonne of CPC to Europe. CPC is used as a source of high purity carbon and is produced by upgrading green petroleum coke (GPC), the chief raw material for calcination. RCL has been jointly promoted by a US-based NRI group, along with Houston Industries Energy Inc and AMCOR of the US, which have a stake of 25 per cent and five per cent respectively.

NOD FOR HOECHST: A panel of medical experts has suggested that Hoechst's AG's Arava drug, which eases the pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis, should be approved for sale in the US. "It's a more rapid acting drug than existing treatments," said Marc Hochberg, head of the rheumatology and immunology division of the University of Maryland. The advisory panel of the Food and Drug Administration (PDA) voted unanimously to recommend that EDA approve the drug.

CATALYTIC CONVERTER: Engelhard Environment Systems (India) Ltd, a joint venture of the US-based Engelhard Corporation and the Chennai-based UCAL Fuel Systems Ltd, began production at India's first auto-emission catalyst plant at Maramalai Nagar, Chennai. Initially, the plant will focus on manufacturing emission-reducing catalysts for light passenger cars. The facility will also produce catalysts for motorcycles, scooters and mopeds. It will be capable of meeting the bulk of India's demands (expected to reach 40,000 auto catalysts annually) by the year 2000.

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