Coal Ministry favours expert panel to expedite overseas buys

PTI New Delhi | Updated on February 15, 2011

Mining operations at Coal India mines.

The Coal Ministry has proposed an inter-ministerial expert panel for fast-track acquisition of overseas assets, as part of its strategy aimed at bridging the coal deficit that is likely to double to 142 million tonnes next fiscal.

“The Ministry has proposed for setting up an expert group comprising representatives from Ministry of External Affairs and Department of Economic Affairs besides Coal India to design an action plan for acquiring assets abroad by October 31, this year,” said an official of Coal Ministry.

The Ministry’s strategic plan is aimed at promoting coal companies mainly Coal India to acquire assets abroad in order to meet the growing requirement of the dry-fuel, mainly by the power sector, the official said.

India had to import 72 million tonnes (MT) of coal to meet domestic demand last fiscal while it is likely to go to 82 MT this fiscal and 142 mt in 2011-12.

To meet the domestic shortfall, Coal Minister Mr Sriprakash Jaiswal has already asked CIL, which accounts for over 80 per cent domestic production, to look for acquiring assets abroad.

Meanwhile CIL, is in advanced talks with US-based Peabody Energy Corp for buying up to a 15 per cent stake in its Australian assets.

Apart from Peabody, the company is also eyeing the West Virginian assets of another American company and is in talks with US’s Massey Energy and Indonesian Novem/Sinarma for a possible partnership on their respective mining projects. The Navratna firm has already earmarked Rs 6,000 crore for acquisitions abroad for the current fiscal.

Published on February 15, 2011

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