Singapore: India’s third-largest steel maker JSW Steel Ltd is aggressively pursuing plans to buy coal mining assets in either Australia, the United States, Canada, Russia or Mongolia, executive director Tuhin Mukherjee said on Friday.
He said the company now primarily imports coking coal from companies Australia. But in the future it wants to meet 50% of coking coal supplies through internal sources.
“We are actively looking for good quality coal mining assets,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of a coal conference in Singapore.
“Investment bankers are approaching us and we are also doing direct buyer-seller talks.”
Asked if the negotiations were at an advanced stage, Mukherjee declined to comment. He also declined to discuss an investment value range for any acquisitions under consideration.
On Thursday, Alberto Migliucci, Credit Suisse’s head of Mining, Oil and Gas for Southeast Asia, said acquisitions of coal and mining assets are likely to increase this year as the global credit crunch eases and demand picks up. China and India are seen leading the chase.
Mukherjee also said that JSW Steel plans to import 6 to 7 million tonnes of coking coal in its financial year ending 31 March 2011, up from 4.5 million tonnes in the previous financial year.
The company aims to raise coking coal output at its two domestic plants to 12 million tonnes by the end of 2010 from 8 million tonnes currently.
Last week, JSW Steel said it swung to a net profit of Rs514 crore for the third quarter ended 31 December, from a Rs128 crore loss in the same period a year ago - on strong volumes, foreign exchange gains and stringent cost-cutting.
Indian steel consumption has risen faster than production from April, the start of India’s fiscal year, to November, led by demand from the housing, auto and infrastructure sectors.
Shares in the company fell 3.7% to Rs952 each by 0442 GMT, while the Mumbai stock market dropped by 1.3%.