Government will extend its full cooperation to South Korean steel giant Posco to expand its presence and setting up plants in India, Steel and Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said.
He, however, stated that the firm will have to participate in the auction process to acquire mines for raw materials.
“They (Posco) will have to participate in the auction process to acquire mines like any other entity. But for value addition, whenever they express their intent to set up a plant we are ready to provide full cooperation and help to them,” Tomar told PTI in an interview.
In the past few months, Posco officials has been meeting Ministers and officials regarding investment in India’s steel sector.
In January, the world’s fourth largest steel producer’s CEO Kwon Oh-Joon, its India CMD Gee Woong Sung had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and are believed to have discussed new investment plans.
Besides, it is also in talks with the state-run domestic giant SAIL to jointly set up an integrated steel plant in India.
“Posco has had an initial round of talks with SAIL, but the talks have not reached a stage to give any conclusive comments. Posco should invest, government is ready to welcome it,” he added.
The Minster said Posco has praised the government’s role in making the process of acquiring mines transparent through the auction route.
Meanwhile, Tomar supported the statements made by Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan who blamed the Odisha government for the delay in the Posco project.
Posco’s proposed 12 million tonne per annum (MTPA) plant valued at USD 12 billion in Jagatsinghpur district in Odisha has been stalled for about a decade.
“The issue of its mines and older investment commitments were with the Odisha government. The A memorandum of understanding (MoU) is an agreement between two (bilateral) or more (multilateral) parties. It expresses a convergence of will between the parties, indicating an intended common line of action. It is often used in cases where parties either do not imply a legal commitment or in situations where the parties cannot create a legally enforceable agreement... More was over before NDA government came to power at the centre. Their file came to us after we came to power, but by then we had made the Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation (MMDR) Act public.
“So on one hand we are going to auction mines in a transparent manner, which gives equal opportunity to all and on the other hand giving preference to Posco was not the right way,” he said.
Tomar said Posco Chairman as well as senior officials from the company had met him a number of times, but they never raised the Odisha issue.
On the role played by the Odisha government, he said: “When we had asked Odisha government to notify, they should have sent the file to us within the timeframe. Had they done this, we could have considered it based on the merits of the case, but their file came late and we had no other way left in front us.”