New Delhi: State-run power utility NTPC Ltd is in talks with Indonesia’s Sugico Group to acquire a coal mine with 1.8 billion tonnes of reserves in the south-east Asian nation.
“The Sugico Group, which has two coal properties, has offered its East Kalimantan mine to NTPC for partnership, which involves stake sale along with a long-term coal supply,” said a person aware of the development who did not want to be identified.
Sugico Group did not respond to questions emailed by Mint.
R.S. Sharma, chairman and managing director of NTPC, confirmed the talks. “We are waiting for the technical report,” he said.
The utility has already appointed Macquarie Group Ltd as the investment banker for the deal, estimated to be around $1 billion (Rs4,560 crore).
Going by recent coal deals, if the reserves are not proven, the valuation of a mine is 10-20 cents per tonne. For proven resources, it is 50-60 cents per tonne. Operational mines come with a much higher price tag of around $2-3 per tonne.
“Sugico has come up with this offer as they do not have the ability to open the mine on their own. The development of the mine will also require a lot of infrastructure development in the region, including roads, ports among others,” said the first person quoted above. “NTPC has called for technical due diligence as the entire mine area is not completely prospected.”
NTPC’s total coal requirement is around 160 million tonnes, of which about 10% is imported to cover the domestic shortfall. Fresh coal supplies are critical as the fuel powers at least 80% of its installed capacity of 31,134MW.
While NTPC projects are facing an acute coal shortage, the utility has not succeeded in plans to source either coal or gas from overseas. It recently dropped plans to acquire a South African coal-mining firm due to the high sulphur content of the reserves. The firm has cash reserves of Rs44,393 crore. It returned a net profit of Rs7,827.4 crore on revenue of Rs42,182.4 crore in 2008-09.
Indian companies scouting for coal resources overseas are competing with leading Chinese miners such as China Shenhua Energy Co. Ltd and Yanzhou Coal Mining Co. Ltd.
More and more Indian power firms are now looking towards Indonesia to meet their requirements. Apart from physical proximity, Indonesia has become the preferred destination for Indian companies because of the easy availability of coal and the local government’s willingness to invite foreign firms to invest in the country.
In an unrelated development, Essar Group said in a Thursday statement that it has signed a definitive agreement to purchase the Aries coal mines in the same region of Indonesia. Aries has an estimated resource base of 100 million tonnes of thermal coal and mineable reserves of 64 million tonnes. The transaction is expected to be completed by next month.