India has overtaken the US to become the world's third-largest steel producer and is working towards achieving 300 million tonnes (MT) target in the next 10 years, said Union Steel and Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Tuesday.
"So far, India was the fourth-largest steel producer in the world only after China, Japan and the US. However, during the first five months of this calendar year, India has achieved the 3rd position in the global steel production," Tomar said.
Addressing a meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee, attached to his Ministries, in Bengaluru, Karnataka, the Minister said Indian steel industry is growing at a reasonably good pace and last year the growth in crude steel production in India was more than 8 per cent.
"However, per capita steel consumption is quite low, 60 kg as against the world average of 216 kg. The low consumption no doubt indicates huge growth potential for Indian steel industry. India has fixed a target of 300 MT production capacity by 2025 and the steel ministry is working out action plan and strategies to achieve this target," he said as per an official statement issued in New Delhi.
Indian steel industry is already in expansion mode. The older steel plants are being modernised and expanded. New greenfield plants are also coming with state-of-the-art technologies.
He told the members that recently Prime Minister Narendra Modi had dedicated the country's largest Blast Furnace of 4160 cubic meter, installed at SAIL's IISCO Steel plant at Burnpur and several Blast Furnaces of around 4000 cubic meter with world class efficiency parameters are in the operation in the country.
On Research and Development to sustain the long-term growth of the Indian steel industry, he said the problems in raw material area need to be addressed to utilise low-grade ore and high ash coal through R&D and technology interventions.
The statement said Tomar stressed the need to pursue R&D for development of value added products for which we are dependent on import.
"We have also issued an advisory to all the large steel companies to step up R&D and enhance R&D investment up to 1 per cent of their sales turnover. SAIL has corporate R&D centre at Ranchi. RINL is also expending R&D infrastructure. Large private sector companies have also set up good R&D facilities for addressing their problems," he added.
The Ministry of Steel is facilitating for setting up of a new institution SRTMI and is contributing 50 per cent in the corpus of SRTMI to spear head R&D of national importance.
In-principle approval for setting up of SRTMI has been given and CEOs of major Indian Steel Companies have signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Ministry of Steel for participation and financial contribution in the initiative with an initial corpus of Rs 200 crore.
Tomar said several plants have already been expanded and SAIL is in the process of modernising and expanding its capacity from the present level of 12.8 MT to 21.4 MT.
Secretary Mines Balvender Kumar informed the members that the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) (Amendment) Act, 2015 would address the emergent problems in the mining industry.
The Amendment removes discretion in the grant of mineral concessions that would be granted by the respective state governments now through auctions, thereby bringing in a greater transparency and removing discretion.
He said the Act makes it mandatory to establish a District Mineral Foundation (DMF) in all districts where mining takes place.
"Contribution to the DMF of an amount not exceeding one-third of the royalty rate in so far as new concessions to be granted by auction are concerned and not exceeding the royalty in respect of existing concessions has been provided for," Kumar said as per the statement.
Talking about exploration, Kumar said in order to bring the Indian mining industry at par with global standards, the Act has provided for a National Mineral Exploration Trust created out of contribution from the mining lease holders.
"This would allow the government to have a dedicated fund for undertaking exploration. National Mineral Exploration Trust is being set up for providing impetus to exploration in mining sector. In addition, the transferability provision (in respect of Mining Leases to be granted through auction) would permit flow of greater investment to the sector and increasing efficiency in mining," he added.
On provisions to check illegal mining, he said, all offences under the Act will now be subject to a maximum punishment of 5 years imprisonment or fine of Rs 5 lakh per hectare.
Those present in the meeting included Minister of State for Steel and Mines Vishnu Deo Sai besides Members of Parliament both from the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
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