Australian partner calls for ‘polite persistence’ as NLC-NMDC venture hits bureaucratic hurdle

M Ramesh Chennai | Updated on January 11, 2018

This is the first R&D project under NITI Aayog for review

As a joint venture proposal of public sector companies, NLC Ltd and NMDC with an Australian company called Environmental Clean Technologies, has been sent to NITI Aayog for review, the Australian company has spoken to its shareholders of the need for “polite persistence”.

NITI Aayog is Centre’s think-tank meant to provide “directional and policy inputs”. The body, whose Chairman is the Prime Minister, has replaced the Planning Commission.

In a communication to the shareholders, ECT’s Managing Director, Ashley Moore, has observed that “the key to building and maintaining forward momentum on our objectives in India has been to build long-term relationships, maintain our tenacity and develop trust with our partners via a culture of polite persistence.”

The joint venture, inked in January 2016, is to upgrade the quality of lignite and use of that upgrade lignite to make crude steel. The project was intended to upgrade some of the Neyveli mine’s 25 million tonne per annum output of low-rank coal to support a 2.8-GW power station.

The investment in the project has not been disclosed, but ECT has said that it had borrowed A$10 million (or ₹4.75 crore) to fund its one-third share of equity.

It is not clear why the project has been referred to NITI Aayog for review, but Moore has noted that the project is the “first R&D project under Niti Aayog’s consideration”.

Master project pact

In February, Moore noted in another statement that the referral of the project for the review was “a recent and unexpected development” and that the review could “take several weeks”.

NLC and NMDC are to submit the ‘master project agreement’ to NITI Aayog, which will review the project against the national strategic plan.

The master project agreement is yet to be submitted to NITI Aayog.

Pointing “the differences between Australian and Indian business culture and the regulatory processes”, Moore has told the shareholders that “our experience is not unusual”.

“Mindful of the longer than expected NITI Aayog review time-frames, NLC and NMDC have elected to commence several key commercial preparatory activities,” he says, indicating that these activities will cost around ₹3 crore. ECT will support these activities by opening an India office, says Moore in the communication.

Published on May 08, 2017

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