JSW chairman Sajjan Jindal and ArcelorMittal president Aditya Mittal arrived in Odisha recently within 24 hours of each other. Both are chasing long-term commitments in the eastern state, albeit in contrasting styles as mineral-rich Odisha continues to hold promise for the Indian steel industry.
JSW has acquired Bhushan Power and Steel’s 3.5 mtpa (million tonnes per annum) plant in Odisha through insolvency resolution. The steelmaker says it is committed to setting up a 10 million tonne capacity plant in the coastal district of Jagatsinghpur. More importantly, through the recently concluded auction of mineral licences, JSW has secured four new mines with a combined capacity of 27.7mtpa and reserves of more than a billion tonnes to feed its pan-India ambitions.
ArcelorMittal chose to make less aggressive final offers, winning mining rights to just one of the 19 working mines–the 5.5mtpa Thakurani deposit. A decade and a half after entering India, the world’s largest steelmaker finally acquired a production presence through its acquisition of the insolvent Essar Steel in a 60-40 partnership with Nippon Steel. Not far from JSW’s proposed greenfield plant, at Paradip, stands Essar’s pellet plant, linked by a slurry pipeline to a beneficiation unit in Odisha’s iron ore districts.
Last week, Aditya Mittal flew to Bhubaneswar, hopped into a chopper and visited the new mine and the nearby beneficiation plant, say those in the know. Accompanied by his senior management, he made a discreet visit to Paradip the next day. There were no other external meetings.
Sanjay Sharma of ArcelorMittal India Ltd (AMIL), who’s CEO for India and China, dropped in at the state secretariat but that too went largely unregarded. An Arcelor-Mittal Nippon Steel (AMNS) spokesperson did not respond to an email seeking confirmation of the visit.