Indian coal chiefs tour Kestrel

WITH India’s government and coal companies having long discussed increasing investment in international mines and projects, an Indian delegation toured Rio Tinto’s Kestrel longwall mine in Queensland’s Bowen Basin last week.
Indian coal chiefs tour Kestrel Indian coal chiefs tour Kestrel Indian coal chiefs tour Kestrel Indian coal chiefs tour Kestrel Indian coal chiefs tour Kestrel

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The delegation, which included India's Minister of State for Coal Sriprakash Jaiswal and Coal India chairman Partha Bhattacharya, visited Kestrel on Wednesday and Coal & Allied’s Hunter Valley Operations in New South Wales on August 31. Coal & Allied is 76% owned by Rio.

A Rio coal spokesperson told ILN the company exported around 2 million tonnes of coking coal a year to India.

ILN understands Rio continues to be interested in any opportunities with India that may exist.

The Australian newspaper reported that Rio and Hancock Prospecting have submitted expressions of interest to sell stakes in mines and projects to Coal India.

Coal India has recently said it might invest up to $US1.5 billion in international mine acquisitions and has also forecast the country will need to import up to 200Mt of coal, thermal and metallurgical, by 2012.

Hancock, backed by Gina Rinehart, Australia’s richest woman and the daughter of the late Western Australian iron ore mogul Lang Hancock, has been pursuing foreign investment for its two 30Mt per annum projects in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

Meanwhile, India’s Bhushan Steel recently made a takeover bid for Queensland coal explorer Bowen Energy, and New South Wales coking coal producer Gujarat NRE Minerals has made a bid for Western Australian thermal coal explorer Rey Resources.

But both moves have met with resistance.

The offer period for Bhushan’s 14c per share takeover of Bowen closed at the start of the month, with the Indian company now holding a 59.65% direct stake.

In addition, India’s Savni Holding has a 16.66% stake, bringing the total Indian ownership of Bowen to at least 76.31%.

Macrae Holdings, a 0.31% Bowen stakeholder, has made an application to the Takeovers Panel over the bid which is currently being reviewed.

An ASX spokesperson previously told ILN the bourse had referred complaints relating to the bid to the Australian Securities & Investments Commission due to matters relating to corporations law.

“Where we have cause, we refer potential serious breaches of our rules or the law to ASIC,” the spokesperson said.

Gujarat’s bid for Rey at 9c per share has now been trumped by merchant bank Crosby Capital’s 19.5c per share full takeover bid for the explorer.

Gujarat is considering its options.

Australia-listed Gujarat NRE Minerals is a subsidiary of India’s Gujarat NRE Coke.

Rey shares closed up 20.5% to 23.5c on Friday.

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