The Telegraph
Wednesday , September 11 , 2013
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Jindal Steel set to plug into Liberia

Raigarh, Sept. 10: Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Liberian government to set up a power plant in the West African country.

The Navin Jindal company plans to build a 2x175 megawatt thermal power plant, the first in a series of projects lined up in Africa.

“I have a dream to light up Africa,” Jindal said here today in the presence of Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who is on a five-day visit to India.

The power plant is likely to require an investment of $250 million, or Rs 1,600 crore, and work is expected to start next year. It will be built in two phases.

Sirleaf, a Noble Peace Prize winner of 2011, visited JSPL’s steel plant in Raigarh and power plant at Tamnar, accompanied by Jindal.

“I am impressed by what they (Jindals) have achieved. The manner in which they have built plants in difficult circumstances and worked with villagers give us confidence to explore more possibilities,” Sirleaf said.

JSPL hopes to use coal from its captive mines in the neighbouring countries of Mozambique and Botswana to fire the Liberian plant. It may also consider importing from the US or Colombia. It will build a jetty to import coal.

“We hope to bring down unit cost to 15 cents (Rs 9.50), one-third of what people pay to run a generator on diesel at present,” Jindal said.

Sources said the Liberian government wanted JSPL to set up a small power plant with a capacity of around 60MW. However, the Jindals are not interested in such small capacity as it will make the project unviable. They have now proposed to supply power to neighbouring countries after meeting Liberia’s demand.

The West African country, which is one of the least developed in the world, produces 60MW against the projected demand of 100MW.

However, the latent demand could be as high as 300MW as global miners and local industries in Liberia depend on diesel generators to run operations.

The power plant in Liberia is part of JSPL’s plan to set up such small units in various African nations. Jindal said, adding investments in these projects would be small and staggered compared with India where the firm is building a 2400MW facility at Raigarh.

Besides Liberia, the other Africa nations where JSPL plans to build power plants are Botswana, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Senegal.