India steel mills set US$46 bln plan to expand capacity ( – June 2, 2015)

Indian steel mills plan to invest 2.94 trillion rupees (US$46.13 billion) in the next 10 years to expand production capacity.

The target is 300 million tons of production capacity by 2025, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing Steel and Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar.

Falling demand from China has resulted in a global oversupply but India is planning for the longer term, Tomar said.

He expects considerable homegrown demand as the government adds infrastructure such as roads, ports, housing and real estate for which steel will be a key component.

India, the world’s third largest steel producer by volume, has been struggling to add new capacity in recent years, mainly because of delays in securing environmental approvals and opposition by farmers who refuse to make way for plant construction.

In 2013, ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker, scrapped plans to build a plant in the eastern Indian state of Orissa, citing delays in acquiring land.

A planned multibillion-dollar project of South Korean steel producer Posco in Orissa has faced construction delays of several years.

In the Posco case, despite having signed an initial pact with the state government, almost a decade back to set up a steel plant there, Posco has not been provided with a captive iron-ore mine, which is crucial for steelmaking.

Analysts say the mine allocation got tied up in state and federal bureaucracy.

“We will do everything possible to attract global investors,” Tomar said.

With a new policy regime in place, he said foreign companies “will find it much easier to set up base in India”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is trying to attract long-term capital investment by overhauling some key policies.

For example, it changed the decades-old mining law and decided to auction all key minerals, which were earlier allocated through a panel of officials.

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