India on Thursday sought the cooperation of the South African Government to enable Indian companies to acquire coal assets there and also help them develop clean coal technologies.

Union Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal along with a high-level delegation comprising Coal Secretary C. Balakrishnan and Coal India Chairman Partha Bhattacharya is now on a four-day visit to South Africa and Mozambique. Mr. Jaiswal met South African Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu there, according to an official release issued here.

Mr. Jaiswal said Coal India was interested in acquiring coal assets in the South African nation and said cooperation with the South African government was aimed at bridging the growing domestic demand-supply gap.

South African Minister of Mineral Resources assured Indian companies, which may have interests in the South African coal sector, her government support.

According to the release, India sought cooperation for technologies on underground coal gasification and coal beneficiation besides modern technology for underground coal mining from South Africa. The coal to liquid technology is now being applied in two domestic coal blocks of 1.5 million capacity each. The statement further said the South African government offered the expertise of its companies in setting up coal washries, deep coal mining technology and clean coal technology, while inviting investments in the South African coal sector. Besides, both countries agreed to exchange research and development initiatives in the area of extraction of coal-bed methane before exploiting coal resources, the statement said.

A number of Indian companies have evinced interest in buying assets in South Africa, including CIL, which accounts for over 85 per cent of the domestic coal production, NMDC, MOIL and Tata Steel.

The copy has been re-edited on January 7, 2010, for a spelling error.