Govt preparing ‘coking coal mission’ to diversify raw material sources: Scindia

Govt is preparing 'coking coal mission' to diversify the sources of key steel making raw materials which are usually imported, said Scindia

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Govt preparing 'coking coal mission' to diversify raw material sources: Scindia

New Delhi: The government is preparing a ‘coking coal mission’ to diversify the sources of key steel making raw materials, for which the country is heavily dependent on imports, said Jyotiraditya Scindia, Union Steel Minister. “The mission is part of the government’s efforts to reduce dependence on imports for coking coal and increase use of locally available coal in the steel making through gasification process,” said Scindia. “India imports around 90 percent of its coking coal requirement. The coal produced within the country has high ash content. Coal with high ash content is not suitable for steel making through the blast furnace route,” said the minister said. “So, what we are looking at through the coking coal mission which is a two-fold view. Firstly, to diversify our coking coal sources and second is through coal gasification,” he added.

India is looking to engage with a few nations for diversifying coaking coal sourcing: Scindia

The minister also said that India is looking to engage with a few nations to diversify coking coal sourcing. In July 2021, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved a pact between India and Russia regarding cooperation on coking coal. At present, India imports coking coal from countries like Australia, South Africa, Canada, and the US for sourcing of coking coal. The logistic costs from these distant nations adds to the input cost of the steel players.

Govt to set up a coal gasification plant with an annual capacity of 100 MT: Scindia

On coal gasification, Scindia said, “the government is eyeing to set up a coal gasification plant with an annual capacity of 100 million tonnes (MT). In a gasification process, coal can be converted into syngas which can be used in sponge iron making and it can further be utilised to make steel.”

All these measures will help the domestic steel industry, the minister said, adding the government has already removed the duty on steel exports to support the sector.

Multiple rounds of discussions held with 2 committees to take decision for removing export duty: Scindia

“Multiple rounds of discussions were held with the two separate committees formed for integrated steel plants (ISPs) and the secondary steel sector. Parameters like volatility in the market, price dynamics, supply and demand situations, and raw material, all were taken into consideration before reaching the decision of removing the duty,” said Scindia.

Six months after imposition of the levy on May 21, the government has removed the export duty on steel items and iron ore to nil effective November 19.

“We (government) came up with the perspective that we should look at post the monsoon season which is sluggish in terms of demand for the steel sector and movement of raw material and finished steel prices move. Based on that, I had committed to both advisory committees that we will take a decision in November. The government has come good on its commitment,” he said.

Govt cuts export duty on steel, iron ore & hikes import duty on some raw materials

Domestic steel sector must take advantage of this decision: Scindia

There were multiple rounds of negotiations within the government as well. The steel ministry held several discussions with the ministries of coal, mines, home, and commerce and industry, and finally the finance minister pursuant to which the government has taken the judicious decision, he said. The domestic steel sector must take advantage of the move, he added.

There has been contraction in demand but India is an outlier: Scindia

Scindia also noted that the international situation in terms of demand is not as bright as it had been earlier for obvious reasons that many countries are on the border of recessionary trends. “There has been contraction in demand, but India is an outlier. We have had a very healthy demand for steel and steel products almost in double digit close to 10 percent as the prime minister’s thrust is on infrastructure,” he said.

(With PTI inputs)

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