Jindal Steel & Power Ltd today said it is interested in partnering state-owned National Mineral Development Corp Ltd (NMDC) in developing the proposed Rs15,000-crore steel plant in Chhattisgarh, provided it gets a controlling stake.
"We are open to any proposal for picking up stake in NMDC's steel venture at Nagarnar. However, we would like to have a controlling stake in it," V R Sharma, deputy managing director and chief executive of steel business at JSPL said.
The country's largest iron ore miner, NMDC is planning a 3-million tonne steel plant at Nagarnar in Chhattisgarh's Bastar region. It is looking for a joint venture partner from among steelmakers for running the plant.
The project was initially conceived as a three-way joint venture between NMDC and public sector steel companies Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL). Later NMDC decided to spearhead it on its own.
The Navin Jindal-led JSPL is one of the largest private sector steel players in the state, with a three-million tonne a year steel plant at Raigarh.
The steel ministry is keen to put NMDC's project on the fast track and wants a steel company - whether private or foreign – with good technology to offer to be roped in.
NMDC's foray into steelmaking by building a steel plant in the Maoist insurgent-infested but mineral-rich region of Bastar was led by its erstwhile chairman and managing director Rana Som. It is also the region where NMDC operates some of its biggest mines at Bailadila, producing 22 mt of its annual output of 30 mt.
For years, Bastar has been a hot bed of poverty and NMDC's plan to train local tribals in basic technical skills to eventually absorb them into the company once it's ready, has gone down well with the 'Naxal' insurgents.
JSPL is also planning to add seven million tonne steel capacity in Chhatisgarh in a bid to scale up its presence in the state, Sharma said. While the company is keen to expand at its existing site at Raigarh and has already applied for requisite approvals for the new facility, the state government is nudging it to set up a greenfield steelmaking capacity at a new location within the state to foster economic development around the plant site.
"We already have a 3 million tonne steel facility in Raigarh. We are keen to expand our capacity. It makes sense to put up any additional capacity at the existing site. While the state government is supportive of our venture, they have requested us to consider a new location for the plant since it will help foster economic development of the region," Sharma said.
The state government is also offering a slew of fiscal benefits to the company for its latest Bastar project.