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Saturday, Oct 26, 2002

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Setting up merchant washeries — Monnet Ispat in talks with CIL

Ambarish Mukherjee

NEW DELHI, Oct. 25

MONNET Ispat Ltd is in talks with public sector giant Coal India Ltd (CIL) for setting up merchant coal washeries that will function on a commercial basis for the first time in the country.

The company has finalised plans for setting up three merchant washeries at coal pit-heads with an initial capacity of 2.5 million tonnes each, with a provision of increasing it up to five million tonnes.

The company has already identified land at pitheads of mines belonging to three coal producing subsidiaries of Coal India Ltd (CIL), namely Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL), Western Coalfields Ltd (WCL) and South Eastern Coalfields Ltd (SECL).

"We have already asked for land and are open to all options like outright purchase of the land or a long-term lease or any other way that will be feasible,'' company officials said.

These merchant washeries will function on a commercial basis and anyone who buys coal from the coal producing companies can get them washed for a fee. Till now, all the washeries in the country cater to the concerned company's captive requirements.

According to preliminary estimates done by the Ministry of Coal, at least around 12-15 per cent savings in transport cost of coal will be possible if washed coal is transported from the pitheads because of lower ash content.

According to company officials, all formalities regarding land acquisition and other regulatory clearances are expected to be over by the end of the current financial year and after that it will take another one year to set up the washeries before they commence commercial operations.

Monnet has tied up with US-based Daniels, one of the global leaders in coal washery technology, which will provide the technology.

Monnet and Daniel already have a 90:10 joint venture company called Monnet Daniel Coal Washeries Private Ltd which is setting up a 4.2-million tonne dedicated coal washery for Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB). Recently the company has also been mandated by the Karnataka State Electricity Board (KSEB) for setting up a dedicated washery.

According to company officials, though the dedicated washeries are being set up through the joint venture route, for the merchant washeries it plans to go alone and buy the technology from its US partners.

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