Union steel and mines minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Wednesday said state-run steel companies would invest Rs 1.5 lakh crore in the next ten years to ramp up their output capacity. Tomar also urged big foreign players like Posco and ArcelorMittal to follow suit by actively pursuing their prospects in the country.
Tomar said the government is ready to extend every possible assistance to foreign investors to fructify their projects proposed in the country. While domestic companies have expanded their existing operations and ventured into greenfield plants, foreign counterparts too need to boost their projects. The auction of mining leases for 10 major minerals, including iron ore, would assure them of perpetual raw material security, he reasoned.
“Since steel is a deregulated sector, the ministry’s role is limited to act as a facilitator and coordinator. We have been proactively interacting with concerned Union ministries and state governments to meet the needs of indigenous steel producers and pursue promised FDI investments,” Tomar said when asked why projects like Posco did not take off.
Between taking charge of the mines ministry and announcing the government’s decision to auction iron ore mines, the Odisha government could have processed Posco’s mining concession proposal, but it did not happen. “Since the mining act has been amended, now bidding for mines to be auctioned is the sole option,” the minister added.
Tomar said SAIL is trying to enter into a joint venture (JV) with Posco to set up a greenfield unit near its Bokaro plant. It is learnt that senior steel ministry officials had recently visited Posco’s headquarters to push for the tie-up.
ArcelorMittal had also signed a MoU with SAIL on May 22 to set up an auto-grade steel plant at Rourkela in Odisha at an estimated cost of about Rs 9,000 crore. “Officials from ArcelorMittal are slated to visit the proposed site for the project,” the minister said.
With India emerging as the third biggest steel producer in the world overtaking USA, state-run steel companies like SAIL and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL) have decided to expand their capacities further. He said SAIL has lined up a corpus of Rs 1.5 lakh crore to ramp up its production capacity to 50 million tonne per year (from 13 MT currently) by 2025, while RINL would achieve 6.3 MT output soon.
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