Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda has sought a fortnight from Arcelor Mittal Steel to settle the issue of iron ore supply. Jharkhand is unable to meet the steel giant’s demand of 600 million tonnes of iron ore for 30 years to set up a 12 million tonne steel plant.
Representatives from the company met Koda in New Delhi Tuesday to discuss the protracted issue. Though Koda asked for more time, it is not clear how he will meet the demand.
Mittal Steel has already rejected the state government’s offer of the Ankura iron ore mines on grounds that reserves are insufficient and because mechanised mining is not possible.
Chiria mines in West Singhbhum district with 3,000 million tonnes of reserves is out of bounds as the state government is fighting a legal battle with Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) in the Jharkhand High Court.
SAIL does not want to share Chiria as it has expansion plan for its Bokaro Steel plant. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has asked SAIL and the Jharkhand government to sort out the issue within two months.
Jharkhand has signed 45 memoranda of understanding (MoU) with different investors in steel, mining, power and in other sectors. Amongst the major players in the steel sector are the Mittals, Tatas, Jindals and Essar.
If all the MoUs are clubbed together, the state would need to provide around 6,000 million tonnes of iron ore, more than its total reserves.
‘All the steel companies that have signed MoUs are not serious players. Only two or three will stay,’ said a senior official.
‘We are also surveying new places. We signed the MoUs keeping the Chiria mines into our consideration but the legal battle with the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) is going to be long,’ he said.
(c) Indo-Asian News Service