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New Delhi, June 28 The Australian Government has supported the proposal from Indian steel companies to acquire equity stake in coking coal companies and to acquire coking coal properties.

Mr Ian McFarlane, the Australian Federal Minister of Industry, Tourism and Resources, has assured that all possible help in fast-tracking these ventures of Indian steel companies would be extended.

“Despite the worldwide demand for Australian coking coal, Mr McFarlane assured that there is good potential for Indian companies to invest in Australia,” said Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, Minister for Steel, Chemicals and Fertilisers, in a release on Thursday.

The Minister is leading a high-level delegation to Australia to ensure supply of strategic raw materials like coking coal, nickel, ferro-manganese and silico-manganese for meeting India’s enhanced steel production requirements.

The Government plans to double steel production capacity over the 11th Five-Year Plan period.

Mr Paswan also said that the proposals from SAIL, Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd, Coal India Ltd, NMDC and NTPC to jointly acquire stake in Australian coal properties have received a fillip with this visit.

The companies are likely to buy equity in these properties or acquire mineral properties in Australia, he added.

“Australian mining giants BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and a couple of other companies have also expressed their desire to invest in the mineral sector in India,” the Minister said.

“We have assured the Australian Government and the companies that the required assistance within the investment and mineral exploration policies in India would be extended.”

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated June 29, 2007)
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