New Delhi: State-owned firm Coal India Ltd said it expects to complete a mine acquisition in the year ending 31 March, and has hired Royal Bank of Canada to carry out due diligence on a deposit in Australia.

Coal India is seeking mines in the US, Australia, South Africa and Indonesia and as many as 52 firms want to be its partners, chairman Partha S. Bhattacharyya told reporters in New Delhi on Monday.

Rising demand: A file photo of a coal miner inside a tunnel at Godavarikhani, near Hyderabad. The country’s coal demand is estimated to reach 731 million tonnes a year by March 2012. Noah Seelam / AFP

Bhattacharyya and officials including Sriprakash Jaiswal, India’s coal minister, visited Australia in September to assess potential acquisition targets. About 15 firms with coal operations in Australia have signalled that they are interested in possible agreements with an Indian partner, Partha Sen, a business development manager for the Australian Trade Commission, said in Sydney on 3 September.

Coal India secured two blocks in Mozambique that may hold a combined 1 billion tonnes of thermal coal, along with some coking coal, Bhattacharyya had said in a 4 June interview.

India’s coal demand is estimated to reach 731 million tonnes a year by March 2012, J. Goel, chief general manager of sales and marketing at Coal India, said on 24 February. The company wants local mining approvals sped up to boost domestic output.

Companies including NTPC Ltd, Reliance Power Ltd and Tata Power Co. Ltd plan to boost generation to meet demand in the world’s second fastest-growing major economy.