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India Looking at BHP's South African Coal Assets

Energy deficient India is looking to develop a coal prospect in South Africa that is owned wholly by BHP Billiton. A joint venture of five Indian state run metals and energy companies known as International Coal Ventures may bid for the prospecting rights of the BHP South African unit based in the Mpumalanga region.

Mpumalanga is located in eastern South Africa, north of KwaZulu-Natal and bordering Swaziland and Mozambique.

The consortium consists of Steel Authority of India, Coal India, NTPC , NMDC and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam. Known as ICVL the consortium was formed to acquire coal assets overseas as per General Manager Ajay Mathur. Earlier in February Mr Mathur had said that ICVL hoped to acquire three coal assets in Indonesia and Australia this year.

ICVL has also bid for a coal block in the Tavan Tolgoi mining area located in Mongolia and is now setting its sights on the coal prospecting rights that BHP Billiton Energy Coal South Africa Ltd is considering selling. They have invited coal exploration, mining and development companies to apply for the tender process to sell all its interest and prospecting rights in Hartogshof, T-Project, Davel, Pegasus, Theunissen, Waterberg, Newcastle, Ermelo and Remhoogte.

Indian Power Secretary P Uma Shankar said that the Power Ministry may facilitate the import of foreign coal or acquisition of overseas blocks by Indian power generating companies. Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said last month that India was working on a policy that would allow state-run companies to acquire coal assets abroad faster to tackle competition from countries like China for global resources.

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