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To meet steel plant needs — Posco may focus on Paradip port

Our Bureau

Kolkata , Nov. 25

WITH the Tata-L&T combine having virtually walked away with the Dhamra port project, Posco, the Korean steel giant, is mulling over the idea of concentrating on the Paradip port to meet the requirements of the steel plant it proposes to set up in Orissa in partnership with BHP-Billiton of Australia, according to informed sources.

The Korean steel giant is understood to have identified Paradip as one of the probable locations for the proposed steel plant.

A delegation of Posco recently visited the Paradip port to make an on-the-spot study of the facilities available there. The delegation also called on the senior officials of the port.

However, Posco's request that it be allowed to participate in the port's proposed deep draught iron ore berth project to be implemented on BOT basis has put the port authorities in a fix. This is because the last date for submitting expression of interest (EoI) is over. It might be noted that the EoIs were invited some time ago and a total of six firms, including BHP-Billiton, have already responded to it. The offers will now be considered for distribution of necessary documents.

The deep draught iron ore berth , it is estimated, will cost around Rs 500 crore including Rs 130 crore of the dredging cost. The objective is to have 17 metres draught at the berth so that large bulk carriers with full load can call at the port without difficulty.

Another reason why Posco is reportedly keen about the Paradip port is that it is believed to have expressed reservations over the soil condition at Dhamra. Besides, most of the facilities at Paradip are already in place while everything has to be built from scratch at Dhamra. Posco, it is learnt, would like to utilise the facilities of the port both for imports (coking coal and superior grade iron ore) and exports (steel slabs and also iron ore).

Meanwhile, a steadily rising traffic trend has been a matter of satisfaction for the Paradip port authorities. Till October, the total traffic throughput at 16.9 million tonnes showed a growth of nearly 16 per cent over 14.6 mt in the same period last year. If the present trend persists, the port will end up with a total throughput of 30 mt as compared to 25.3 mt in 2003-04, it is felt.

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