Arcelor-Mittal seeks 3 leases in Jharkhand

Arcelor-Mittal seeks 3 leases in Jharkhand

New Delhi: Arcelor-Mittal has applied for three iron ore mining leases in Jharkhand, but has yet to start the application process in Orissa, say government officials in the two states.

The world’s largest steel maker announced plans to build two 2-million-tonne plants each in Jharkhand and Orissa, in 2005 and 2006, respectively.

Arcelor-Mittal’s Indian arm Mittal Steel India Ltd, which has been eyeing the controversial Chiria mines in Jharkhand, has applied for two mining leases in Karmapada in the southern district of Chaibasa last month. It has also applied for one lease in neighbouring Ghatkuri, located in the Saranda forest spread over 11,000ha, currently under litigation.

The state government had earlier recommended the names of nine companies for the Ghatkuri mines to the Union mining ministry, but the proposals were returned in March last year as the area was reserved for public sector undertakings.

In November, the government decided to open the area for private-public ventures, and has been trying to attract steel investors and the much-needed jobs and infrastructure development they will bring to the poor states.

At least four companies— Adhunik Alloys and Power Ltd, Ispat Industries Ltd, Monnet Ispat and Energy Ltd and Abhijeet Industries Ltd have moved the Supreme Court against the government, saying they have made investments on the assurance of allocation of mines.

Rights to the Chiria mines are also in litigation between the state and the Steel Authority of India Ltd, (SAIL) which produces 32% of the country’s steel, similarly locked in a battle over access to iron ore.

Jharkhand has a reserve of 3.7 billion tonnes, of which SAIL holds a reserve of 2.4 billion tonnes in the Chiria-Gua area.

Under the memoranda of understanding signed with the two states, the company will require 600 million tonnes of iron ore in each state, said Sanak Mishra, chief executive officer of Mittal Steel India.

In Orissa, the company is in the process of completing preliminary filings. “Arcelor-Mittal is in the process of achieving certain milestones which will qualify it to apply for a mining lease," said a state official who did not want to be named.

Under the letter of intent signed with the Orissa government, the company said it will require 8,000 acres of land; 6,000 acres will be reserved for the steel plant and 1,000 acres each for building a power plant and a township. It has already identified land in the Keonjhar district, said Mishra.

The company has asked for 10,000 acres in Jharkhand and Hatch Consultancy was hired to prepare the concept paper.

Mittal Steel also proposes to build a 750MW power plant in Jharkhand, for which its has applied for the Serigarha coal block.