The steel ministry on Monday asked domestic steel makers to “actively consider” setting up plants in Iran saying the Gulf nation has assured to provide all assistance to them in this regard.
Senior officials of the ministry met representatives of seven steel companies including those from PSUs and told them that following the lifting of sanctions against Iran, the time is ripe to invest there. The producers were informed that the Iranian government has sought Indian investments of nearly Rs 50,000 crore in infrastructure projects, including ports, railways and highways.
Iran has sought Indian investments in expanding its railway network and needs about 3 million tonnes of steel rails to connect all major cities, industrial centres and also ports for faster transportation of manufactured goods.
The government has asked State Trading Corporation (STC) to ink definitive agreements with its Iranian counterpart to pave the way for Indian steel exports there.
“The representatives of the steel companies said their respective companies are keen to invest in Iran, which is an emerging market and needs huge quantity of steel. But they emphasised on the need for raw material security along with required land should be provided to them to help them proceed,” a source said. It is learnt that officials from other ministries were also invited for the meet,
State-run steel producer SAIL, along with STC, had bagged an export contract of 1,00,000 tonne of rails to Iran Railways in October last year.
Two months later the company also proposed to set up a 2 million tonne plant at an estimated investment of nearly Rs 10,000 crore. To implement its proposed project, SAIL had asked the Iranian government to provide 5,00 hectares of land near the country’s Bandar Abbas port and another 5,00 hectares of contiguous land for future expansions.
The PSU’s proposal had come up for discussion during a meeting between steel minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Iranian envoy Gholamreza Ansari in December 2014. Allaying fears on availability of raw material resources, Ansari said that his country has iron ore reserves worth 2.5 billion tonnes and is keen to explore natural resources jointly with India.
Another domestic steel maker Essar is keen to set up a 3 million tonne steel plant in Iran and wants regulatory and raw material clearances for the same. State-run iron ore producer Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited has also planned to export about 2 MT pellets to Iran.
Iran is finalising a mechanism for a credit line to cover rail exports transaction. The mechanism may enable its private buyers to import materials through agencies like STC, it is learnt.