The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Steel deal shorn of thorns
- Mittal MoU skirts ore swap, captive port

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 21: Arcelor-Mittal, the world’s largest steel producer, today signed an MoU with the Orissa government for a 12-million-tonne greenfield project with an investment of Rs 40,000 crore.

The company, however, made it clear that the MoU did not spell curtains for a similar project in Jharkhand.

The Mittal group had signed a similar MoU with the former Arjun Munda government in Ranchi. But the project has not taken off because of hitches in the allotment of the high-quality iron ore mines at Chiria.

Keeping the doors open for Jharkhand, Malay Mukherjee, member, Group Management Board of Arcelor Mittal, said: “Jharkhand is very much on our minds. But we are a growth-oriented company. We believe in doing things quickly. Where we can grow faster, we will go.”

He said in Orissa, they had moved very fast, within five months, and the company wants the process to continue.

In July, Arcelor-Mittal Group chief L.N. Mittal (in picture) visited Orissa and announced that a 12-million-tonne plant would be set up there. “In the past five months, we have been able to select the site, make preliminary studies and sign the MoU,” Mukherjee said.

The preliminary detailed project report will be ready within six months.

The final report is expected within another 18 months, Mukherjee said after signing the MoU on behalf of the company. The first phase is expected to be commissioned 48 months after the preparation of the report, he added.

The proposed greenfield project would be set up in two phases of 6 million tonnes each. The first phase would see an investment of Rs 22,000 crore and is scheduled for commissioning in 2010-11.

Apart from the 12-million-tonne steel plant, the company also proposes to set up a 750- MW captive power plant.

The state government has committed to provide 8,000 acres for the project in Patna tehsil of mineral-rich Keonjhar district. While 6,000 acres would be required for the plant, 1,000 acres each would be needed for the captive power plant and the township.

Unlike the Posco project, the MoU with Mittal did not contain any controversial clause with regard to swapping of ore or a captive port.

He said issues relating to land acquisition would be resolved with the support of the people and the government.

Steel and mines secretary L.N. Gupta said there would be a nodal officer to coordinate the project work.

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