Tata Steel Keen On Greater Investments In Jharkhand

Jamshedpur, January 21: | Updated: Jan 22 2003, 05:30am hrs
Tata Steel is keen to invest around Rs 4,500 crore in steel-making and Rs 2,500 crore in mining activities in this mineral-rich Jharkhand state in two phases. Responding to the states call for expressions of interest circulated in September 2001, a team of senior company officials made a presentation recently before the state minister of mining, Mr Ravindra Rai, and senior mining and geology department officials in Ranchi.

Mr Rai told FE that Tata Steel is interested in increasing its steel-making capacity by 1.5 to 1.75 times its present capacity. Sources close to the minister told FE that the steel major, which was currently producing nearly 4 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of saleable steel may hike it to 5 mtpa in the first phase, and to 6.5 mtpa in the second phase.

The capacity hike would entail an outlay of Rs 2,000 crore in the first phase and Rs 2,500 crore in the second phase, respectively. Tata Steel has also expressed its interest to produce all essential ores and minerals required for steel-making, like iron ore, coking coal, thermal coal, pyroxenite, manganese, chromite, etc, a source said.

In line with its intention of hiking its steel-making capacity, the company is also planning to increase its hot metal-making capacity from 4.5 mtpa to 6 mtpa in the first phase and to 7.5 mtpa in the second phase. In the mining sector also, the steel major is interested to invest around Rs 900 crore and Rs 1,600 crore, respectively in two phases. It has plans to hike its iron ore output from the present 7.5 mtpa to 11 mtpa.

Similarly, the companys raw coal production would go up from the present 9 mtpa to 12 mtpa and that of pyroxenite from 0.3 mtpa to 0.4 mtpa. In the second phase, Tata Steel wants its iron ore output to go up to 13 mtpa, raw coal output to 15 mtpa and pyroxenite to 0.5 mtpa.

After meeting its own needs, the company is also interested in selling iron ore, coal, etc in the open market, sources said.

The company has said that some of the steel-makers were eager to buy coal from it, as the product which they were getting at present from other sources was not consistent in ash content. It should have an ash content between 17 per cent and 21 per cent after washing, he said. Tata Steel is therefore interested in putting up coal washeries also.

Sources said that the steel major has expressed its interest in making the investments either on its own or by way of joint ventures with the various state bodies like the Jharkhand State Mineral Development Corp, etc. The sources could not specify the time-frame within which the company would make its investments. A source, however, indicated that everything depended on the Governments response to the companys plans.

Tata Steel is also keen on reducing energy consumption in steel-making, looking for fresh lease of coal blocks in areas such as Auranga and north & south Karimpura, and the Kotre-Basantpur and Tasra blocks near Jharia. The steel major has sought for new lease of iron ore mining rights at the Vijay I and II blocks of the Chiria iron-ore deposits, according to sources. The new sites are said to be near the old sites only.

Several other companies like the Jindals, the Ispat Group, Bhushen Steel, Sesa Goa, Usha Beltron, the Australia-based mining major BHP Billiton, Rungta Projects Ltd, Monet Ispat, etc, have also shown keen interest to invest in Jharkhand and have responded favourably to the states expression of interest call. Most of them have come up with plans of huge investments in the mineral and mining sectors in the state.