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Mittal eyes Orissa''s iron ore depositsnews
07 July 2006

Mumbai: Fresh from his successful bid for Arcelor SA the world''s second largest steel producer, steel baron Laxmi Mittal is in India prospecting for iron ore in Orissa and Jharkand.

Industry experts say Mittal''s mission to Orissa could have been prompted by the world''s largest steel company''s inability to grab a share of iron ore in the highly lucrative Chiria mines in Jharkhand.

Last year Mittal had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Jharkhand government for a 10-million tonne steel plant. But, with the proposal not having made any headway, Mittal may go for a similar MoU with the Orissa government as a back up.

It is also possible that Mittal is exploring the possibility of setting up a second facility in India, a market he has not entered so far despite his global footprint, though his younger brothers Pramod and Vinod Mittal run an independent steel group, Ispat Industries.

Government officials in Orissa, meanwhile, indicated that the state can make available captive mines for a five MT steel plant.

On his reported acquisition plans in India, Mittal said that it is one possibility. "Who said that I am not interested?" was his retort to a question during a press conference.

Following the successful takeover bid and the creation of Arcelor-Mittal late last month, Mittal had said that the new entity would look at India and China for future expansion. Mittal had also hinted at reviewing progress of his joint venture with the Indian oil major ONGC two days before his arrival.

India-born Mittal had received considerable support from the Indian government, particularly from commerce minister Kamal Nath and the media. Mittal is due to meet prime minister Manmohan Singh later to explore investment opportunities.

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Mittal eyes Orissa''s iron ore deposits