Global steel major ArcelorMittal, which has lined up Rs 1 lakh crore investments for India, said today it is in race for a chunk of the mineral-rich Chiria mines in Jharkhand.
“Steel producers are in discussions with the Jharkhand government over Chiria mines. We are also party to such discussions,” ArcelorMittal CEO (India & China) Vijay Bhatnagar said on the sidelines of the CII Steel Summit here.
The Chiria mines, with around two billion tonnes of high-grade iron ore reserves, have been at the centre of a ownership battle for more than four years. The mines were originally allotted to Indian Iron & Steel Company, which was merged with SAIL in 2005.
While SAIL claims the ownership of the Chiria reserves by virtue of the merger, the Jharkhand government disputes it.
The differences pertain mainly to the renewal of 4 leases - out of 10 iron ore mines - in the Chiria and Gua region.
Besides ArcelorMittal, Tata Steel and JSW Steel have been eyeing the huge Chiria reserves and want rights to mine these.
Struggling to get regulatory clearances and acquire land, besides iron ore reserves for two steel plants, one each in Jharkhand and Orissa, ArcelorMittal once again said that it would move out of the original sites. “We may look for alternative sites,” Bhatnagar said.
ArcelorMittal Chairman and CEO L N Mittal had last week said that options are open before it to shift the 12-Million Tonnes Per Annum projects from the proposed sites in the two states.
It has been allocated Karampada mines in Jharkhand with estimated reserves of 65 million tonnes of iron ore. The company needs about 600 million tonnes of iron ore to feed its steel plant in the state.
The company is still awaiting iron ore mining leases in Orissa.
The Jharkhand government last month gave SAIL in-principle approval for renewal of Budhaburu iron ore deposits in Chiria and Gua region of the state with estimated reserves of 810 million tonnes, nearly half of the reserves in the area.
It was not part of the leases on which SAIL and the Jharkhand government have locked horns.