Mining out opportunity in India

A BOOM in the coal sector, increased economic liberalisation and the third largest coal production in the world has set the stage for foreign companies to make their entrance into India.
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Angie Tomlinson

India ranks third in the world in coal production behind China and the USA and recent economic policy changes has aroused the interest of private and foreign majors.

Australian companies already in India include BHP Billiton, Thiess and Rio Tinto and multinationals are also trying for their share of the cake, with Joy Mining, DBT, Tamrock Sandvik and Atlas Copco in the thick of the action.

The Indian government have taken some major steps in the past few years to increase foreign investment and interest through simplified rules for foreign direct investment and allowing captive coal mining in the private sector and in joint ventures.

Changes that will increase washery activity include the “1000 km mandate”, which dictates that coal with an ash content above 34% not be transported to remote power plants, necessitating substantial washery capability and technology. Also, new coal mines more than 40km from a power station must have a washery.

According to the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) opportunity for Australian companies exist in mining consultancy, contract mining including with fleets, joint venture mining, coal washing, clean coal technology, environmental solutions, mining safety, exploration, niche equipment and consumables and mining software and systems.

Australian has already made major inroads into the software market, with at least 60% of the world’s mines now operating Australian made and designed software.

Austrade recommended a number of strategies for business breakthrough in India, a focus on missions, events and visits a major aspect of successful entry.

In 2003 and Indian delegation of more than 15 members visited Australia for AIMEX in Sydney, with individuals also visiting Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne. In the same year, the 19th World Mining Congress was held in New Delhi with Austrade facilitating an Australian area.

This year promises the major international mining show in India, IMME 2004 in November.