Mining PSU, steel giants plan major projects

9:50 AM, Saturday, December 14th, 2013

PSUBangalore: The National Minerals Development Corporation (NMDC) is aggressively pursuing the setting up of its giant steel plant in Bellary region, geographically close to the projects planned by two giant steel manufacturers ArcelorMittal and Bhushan Steels.

NMDC had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at the Global Investors Meet (GIM) in 2010. It has been pursuing the project to set up a five million tonne plant in Bellary over the past six months. NMDC had initially planned a three million tonne plant, but later scaled up the capacity.

Sources in the Commerce and Industries department said that the government had already started to assist NMDC in the land acquisition process.

The public sector unit (PSU) is likely to acquire close to 3,000 acres of land in Bellary for the project estimated to cost Rs 18,000 crore. NMDC primarily deals with mining of iron ore and other minerals and has not ventured out previously into the end users’ market.
NMDC is the only steel manufacturer at present which has a captive mine, at Donimalai, to extract iron ore for its plant.

The only concern, at present, for NMDC is said to be a court case filed by a group of farmers over land acquisition. Government officials in Bellary said the case is closer to being disposed of, to allow NMDC to go ahead with its plan.

Officials in Bellary said steel manufacturing giants ArcelorMittal and Bhushan Steels were keeping a close watch on NMDC’s project, before going ahead with their projects.

The State government had allotted 4,800 acres in Bellary for the firm. But ArcelorMittal gave up 2,000 acres out of the allotted land and will now set up the Rs 30,000-crore plant on 2,800 acres, which it has already taken possession of.

It is said that the company was ‘generous’ in the rates it offered to the landowners, thereby quelling the farmers’ unrest.

Officials said that the 2,000 acres surrendered by ArcelorMittal has been picked up by Bhushan Steels for their plant.

Elsewhere, Tata Steels have taken possession of 2,000 acres in Haveri district. Officials in the office of the Haveri deputy commissioner said the Tatas had initially faced stiff opposition from farmers over acquisition of land.

The company took the farmers’ leaders to Jamshedpur to show them their plants and apprise them of the advantages of the plant planned in Karnataka.

M N Vidyashankar, principal secretary to the Commerce and Industries department, said, “Both Tata Steels and ArcelorMittal have taken possession of the land.

They are now in the process of acquiring clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, after which the DC in each of the districts will conduct an environmental impact assessment public hearing to clear the proposals.”

On the iron ore linkage to the steel plants, Vidyashankar said that the two companies had to fend for themselves. “We are just giving them the land,” he said.

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