Centre looking to tie-up iron ore for Rashtriya Ispat expansion

VISAKHAPATNAM: The Centre is trying its best to secure captive iron ore mines to help Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (Visakhapatnam steel plant) in its second phase of expansion, according to the Union Secretary, Mr D.R.S. Chaudhary. The expansion will see the capacity increase to 11 million tonnes from 6 million tonnes.

Mr Chaudhary, on his first visit to the plant after assuming charge, said here on Thursday that the lack of captive mines was the major handicap suffered by the Plant, but soon the problem may be mitigated, if not solved. “The Rajasthan Government has agreed to grant iron ore mines to the RINL at Bilwara. The Orissa Government has also agreed to clear two mines of the BIRD group of companies over which the RINL has the strategic control. I will visit Orissa along with the CMD of RINL to expedite the process. These steps will improve the situation to a great extent and the RINL can go ahead with the next phase of expansion,” he said.

COAKING COAL REAL WORRY

He said public sector steel plants should add capacities, as more steel would be required in future. “Iron ore is not the real worry, but coking coal. We have no coking coal suitable for iron and steel production and we are depending on Australia and others. We should acquire stake in mines abroad,” he said.

On the question of the Andhra Pradesh Government allotting captive iron ore mines, Mr A.P. Choudhury, the Chairman and Managing Director of the Plant, said the State Government was keen on allotting Bayyaram mines, but there were legal hassles.

The Steel Secretary said research and development was one area India was lagging behind in. That is why, he said, the country should welcome Posco and other foreign companies setting up plants in Orissa as they would bring in new technologies.

On the question of divestment by the Government in the Plant to the extent of 10 per cent, he said the unions should not get agitated, as it would not lead to privatisation as they apprehended. It is the stated policy of the Union Government that its stake will not never go down below 51 per cent. Earlier in the day, the Steel Secretary inaugurated a caster shop in a new steel melt shop and an air-separation plant taken up as a part of the expansion project. The two facilities involved an investment of Rs 800 crore.

Mr Dalip Singh, Joint Secretary, accompanied the Steel Secretary on his two-day visit of the plant.

[Source – The Hindu]


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