SAIL Eyes Overseas Coal Marts

Mumbai, Feb 25 | Updated: Feb 26 2004, 05:30am hrs
With input costs rising across the board and smaller steel manufacturers looking at production cuts to try and ease the strain of high raw material costs, Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) is exploring overseas markets to meet their requirement of coal, which is one of the major raw materials for the company.

According to sources within the industry, the steel major is in the process of finalising deals in Australia with two big coal suppliers and is also exploring markets in Canada and Africa.

The company had recently said that it is in talks with Coal India Ltd (CIL) to increase the supply of coal to the company.

A company official told FE that contrary to the talk in the market that the company is looking at production level cuts, it is forging ahead and is confidant of meeting the target of increasing its saleable production level by another one million tonne (mt) in the next fiscal.

We are doing well and are looking at various overseas markets from which more coal can be got, the official said.

He added that long-term contracts are a preferred means of transaction in terms of raw material imports, but due to the current situation, many steel manufacturers are resorting to short term contracts to ease the strain.

An analyst added that with rising global prices of steel and raw materials, it is only logical that players that do not have any captive sources of crucial raw materials, begin to explore other avenues.

According to market sources, steel heavyweight Tata Iron and Steel Company Ltd (Tisco) is exploring the idea of setting up a metcoke plant which is an important raw material.

With China curbing exports of coal and two mines closing down in Australia, Indian steel makers are concerned about continued availability of raw materials in the near future.