August 6, 2014 / 2:20 PM / 3 years ago

REFILE-India's Jindal Steel hopes to resolve iron ore, coal shortages soon

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MUMBAI, Aug 6 (Reuters) - India’s Jindal Steel and Power Ltd hopes to resolve raw material shortages that have hurt production at its steel plants in the “next couple of weeks”, Chief Executive Ravi Uppal said on Wednesday.

The steel major is facing iron ore shortages after a Supreme Court order in May forced the closure of nearly half the mines in top producing state Odisha, where the company mines and sources iron ore.

Its main suppliers of iron ore have received approval from an expert committee, and the issue should be resolved after a letter is issued by the federal ministry of environment, Uppal told Reuters.

“We are following up with our suppliers and are hopeful that the government will understand the urgency of the matter and issue the necessary clearance,” Uppal said.

As for coal, depressed international prices could lead the company to increase imports of the raw material as an alternative to obtaining it locally.

“We are coming to a pass when we find that imported coal is almost at par with the e-auction, and sometimes the quality of imported coal is better,” Uppal said.

In India, a portion of locally produced coal is auctioned online to allow for more transparent and efficient marketing.

The company, which mines about 20 million tonnes of coal and iron ore in India, Australia and Africa, is also looking to trade minerals in the market once the production meets its needs.

“We haven’t yet come to that level, but I‘m sure that by next year, we shall be in a position to start trading,” Uppal said.

Uppal said the company’s long-term target was to almost double steel production to 15 million tonne per year by 2020 and take it power capacity to 12,000 megawatts (MW) from the 5,000 MW it should reach by the end of this year. (Reporting by Aman Shah in Mumbai; editing by Jane Baird)

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