The world's largest steel-maker ArcelorMittal has made some headway on its projects in India, particularly in Karnataka, where it intends to set up a small mill with a capacity of about 3 million tonnes per annum, a top official of the company said.
"There is some progress... land acquisition has started, licencing process for water is on... so there has been small progress... We are moving ahead step by step and taking smaller steps," a Member of ArcelorMittal's Group Management Board and the Head of its Long Carbon Products division, Michel Wurth, said.
He, however, refused to comment on how much land has been acquired so far in the iron-ore rich state.
In its quest to set up a steel plant in India, the world's largest steel maker is now banking on Karnataka, where it intends to set up a 6-mtpa steel mill in two phases alongside a captive 750-MW power plant at an estimated investment of Rs 30,000 crore ($6.5 billion).
".... More than 4,000 acres of land has already been acquired by the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB), while we need about 4,500 acres of land. We are waiting to get the possession," a senior company official said.
However, the going has not been so good for ArcelorMittal's big ticket investment plans for two steel mills of 12-mtpa capacity in Jharkhand and Orissa.
The projects, which would have attracted an estimated investment of over USD 10 billion each, are yet to see the light of the day due to land acquisition problems and regulatory hurdles. The company even had to shift the site of the proposed project to Bokaro, in Jharkhand, from Khunti-Gumla.
"You should ask Indian authorities... We want to invest, but the process is extremely lengthy," Wurth said when asked about the proposed 12-mtpa steel mills of the company in Jharkhand and Orissa.
He added, "At the beginning, we thought of having big projects, but it is extremely difficult to get all authorisations at one place. Now we are focusing on smaller projects in different states... The progress is not the way as we would have liked."
According to its annual report for 2010, ArcelorMittal has shifted its focus in the country to setting up smaller plants due to implementation challenges associated with large greenfield projects in India.
"The company in the medium term intends to take a modular approach and also evaluate smaller projects in various Indian states, with potential individual investments estimated in the $1.5 billion to $3.0 billion range," the report said.