India looks to relax norms to attract global coal miners, industry skeptical – by Sudarshan Varadhan and Melanie Burton (Reuters U.S. – November 18, 2019)

NEW DELHI/MELBOURNE (Reuters) – India is looking to lower advance payments and offer larger mining blocks to attract global companies to invest in its coal sector for the first time, but industry sources say the measures may not be enough to draw in big international miners.

India plans to float global tenders for the first time for coal mining blocks before end-2019, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters in August, a move that could end Coal India Ltd’s <COAL .NS> near-monopoly on the fuel.

The auctions, to be aimed at paring back the nation’s coal imports, are intended to attract global miners such as Glencore PLC, BHP Group, Anglo American PLC and Peabody Energy Corp.

Vinod Kumar Tiwari, additional secretary at India’s Ministry of Coal, told Reuters the government was looking to reduce the upfront payments of around 10% of the estimated value of blocks that have been awarded.

“We are thinking of lowering that,” Tiwari said, although he was not able to say by how much. A firm date for the auctions has not been finalised, and a final roadmap will only be ready after a meeting of top government officials, another coal ministry official said, without specifying a date for the meeting.

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