MAC: Mines and Communities

Chiefs Off For Slice Of India

Published by MAC on 2006-03-06

Chiefs off for slice of India

Glenda Korporaal

6th March 2006

CORPORATE Australia will today begin its most aggressive pitch yet to cash in on the economic boom in India, with at least one firm hoping to return from Prime Minister John Howard's trade delegation to the subcontinent with a $1 billion-plus deal in the pipeline.

Leighton Holdings offshoot Thiess is angling to be the first foreign private sector coal miner in India through a tender for a $1.3 billion long-term contract to mine coal north of Calcutta.

Thiess chief executive Roger Trundle will lobby for business in India as part of the Prime Minister's delegation, which departed yesterday. His company is the only foreign bidder for a contract to take over the operation of a mine in Raj Mahal. If it succeeds, it will be the first time a foreign company has been allowed to mine coal for the government-owned Coal India and could be a model for future deals as the Indian Government seeks ways to boost coal production.

The combination of India's rapid growth rate and its cash-strapped, inefficient, government-owned coal industry has led to an increasingly severe coal shortage, even though it has the world's third-largest reserves.

As a result, the Indian Government is considering outsourcing coal production for its power industry in a bid to generate the energy needed to maintain its economic growth, forecast at 7per cent in 2006.

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