India federal govt to decide on giving iron ore license to POSCO -court

NEW DELHI Fri May 10, 2013 1:39am EDT

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NEW DELHI May 10 (Reuters) - India's federal government will decide if South Korean steelmaker POSCO can have preferential access to an iron ore mine for its planned $12 billion steel plant, a top court said, providing a boost to the troubled project billed as the country's largest foreign direct investment.

POSCO, the world's fourth-largest steel producer, has waited eight years to get necessary clearances, land and an iron ore mining licence to start work on the plant in eastern Odisha state slated to have a capacity of 12 million tonnes a year.

Justice Sudhansu Jyoti Mukhopadhaya of India's Supreme Court on Friday asked the government to look into the issue of giving iron ore mining license to POSCO. The court also set aside a lower court's ruling against the company.

POSCO, which counts billionaire investor Warren Buffett as a stakeholder, has already raised its investment in other emerging countries such as Indonesia to make up for its slow progress in India.

The company's project is one of several in Odisha facing protests and delays. Investment plans of ArcelorMittal and Vedanta Resources in the state have been similarly delayed.

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