Contending that it was imperative for the government to provide some sort of raw material security to steel PSUs, the steel ministry has written to its coal counterpart suggesting specifically the blocks that can be directly allocated to state-run firms such as SAIL, NMDC and RINL, keeping in mind their future need.
Barring SAIL, coal blocks have not been allocated so far to either RINL or NMDC despite the fact that Visakhapatnam-based RINL is in the last lap of raising its annual steel-making capacity to 7.5 million tonne per annum (mtpa) and iron ore miner NMDC ‘s maiden steel venture with 3 mtpa capacity is scheduled for completion in December this year.
SAIL, which is raising its capacity to 21.4 mtpa by the end of the current fiscal, also meets most of its thermal coal requirement through the linkages with Coal India and imports most of its coking coal needs.
According to the steel ministry, taking into account their next 30 years’ need, SAIL would require 436.95 MT thermal coal and 732.38 MT coking coal, NMDC would require 125.55 MT thermal coal and 319 MT coking coal and RINL would be requiring 153 MT thermal coal and 104 MT coking coal.
The steel ministry suggested that the Utkal A thermal block, which has an extractable reserve of around 300 MT, could be given to SAIL or, as an alternative, the Utkal B block could also be allocated to the steel Maharatna.
Three thermal coal blocks, in order of preferences, have also been suggested for NMDC. While the Pindra Debipur block has been put up at the top of the order, the Patratu coal block has been listed in the second and Rabodih coal block in the third rank of preference. Three blocks have also been suggested for RINL.
The steel ministry feels that the Rabodih coking coal block, with an extractable reserve of 120 MT, could be best suited to SAIL while the Kotre Basantpur and Lalgarh blocks find mention as the second and choices. For NMDC, it has suggested two blocks, and for RINL, one block.
“I would be grateful if the ministry of coal could consider allocating suitable coking coal and thermal coal mines to the PSUs as indicated against them at an earlier date, under Section 5 of the Coal Mines Special Provisions Act, and oblige,” steel and mines minister Narendra Singh Tomar wrote to his coal counterpart Piyush Goyal.