NMDC to ink pact with S Africa to scout minerals

New Delhi | Updated: Mar 31 2009, 05:34am hrs
State-owned mining giant NMDC will soon join hands with South Africas Kopanao Ke Metla Investment Company for acquiring coal, iron ore and manganese properties in African nations.

(The) NMDC board has approved the tie-up with Kopanao. We have apprised them of our decision and are waiting for a reply, NMDC Chairman and Managing Director Rana Som said.

Kopanao Ke Metla Investment Company is the investment arm of South Africas biggest trade union federation the Congress of South African Trade Unions, which facilitates foreign investments in African countries. After an initial business working agreement with the African entity, NMDC is looking at floating a joint venture company with it to look for mineral properties.

Asked about the time-frame by which the two agreements are likely to be signed, Som said it would depend on the response from the African company. Sources, however, said the business working deal is likely to be signed in just over a weeks time.

NMDC has already received a couple of proposals from South African companies to form joint ventures for taking up iron ore mining.

Early this year, the Indian miner had announced applying brakes on acquisition of overseas mining assets due to the global economic slowdown, but has been considering proposals in Africa, Armenia, Australia and Brazil.

NMDC has also entered into a working partnership with Australian resource developer Sterling Resources to look for coking coal properties in Australia and New Zealand and has tied-up with global mining giant Rio Tinto to scout domestic and overseas mineral properties.

The Indian miner, which produced about 30 million tonne of iron ore last fiscal, is diversifying into steel sector.

It is in the process of setting up a three-million tonne per annum steel plant in Chhattisgarh and has proposed a 10-MTPA unit in Karnataka as well.

To meet the raw material requirement of its proposed plants, the Navratna PSU has applied for iron ore mines and coal blocks in Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Jharkhand.