Major reforms in India open up opportunities for Australian METS firms

28 Mar 2018

Two significant policy changes in India are creating new opportunities for Australian miners and mining equipment, technology and services (METS) firms.

In February 2018, the Indian Government announced it would open commercial coal mining to private-sector companies, including international firms. Previously, private companies were only allowed to undertake captive coal mining. This is the biggest reform of the Indian coal sector since it was nationalised in 1973.

Under the new system, state governments will auction coal mines or coal blocks. The mine or block will be awarded to the bidder that offers the highest price per tonne of coal, which will be paid to the government on the actual production of coal. There will be no restriction on the sale or use of the coal. 

The move is expected to increase competition in a sector long dominated by state-owned Coal India Limited, and provide India’s power, cement and steel producers with reliable and efficient sources of fuel for their operations. It is also expected to drive investment, and create direct and indirect employment in mine-producing areas. 

‘With Indian miners actively looking to incorporate leading-edge technologies that meet commercial and sustainability targets into their operations, this is a great opportunity for Australian METS companies to move into or expand their business in the country,’ says Leonie Muldoon, Senior Trade Commissioner, Austrade New Delhi. 

Indian miners are seeking a range of solutions, including geomining consultancy services (resource estimation, project reporting, mine planning); mining exploration services; open-cut and underground contract mining; mineral testing; mining software (mine planning, management and fleet monitoring systems); mine safety solutions; material-handling systems; and environmental solutions (waste and tailings management systems).

Australian METS firms with operations in India include Golder Associates, Immersive Technologies, Maptek, NSL Consolidated, Runge Pincock Minarco and Simtars.

The decision to open up coal mining to private-sector companies is the latest in a series of reforms by the Indian Government. 

In May 2017, it announced a new National Steel Policy aimed at building a globally competitive, technologically advanced steel manufacturing industry in India. The country is currently the world’s third largest producer of steel.

Under the policy, India is aiming to grow its steel production capacity from 100MT now to 300MT by 2030, as well as increase the use of steel in the infrastructure, automobile and housing markets.

To support its goals, India is seeking raw materials not available in the country, such as metallurgical coal, liquefied natural gas, refractory materials and limestone. 

It is also looking for energy-efficient, environmentally friendly technology and services, including solutions that support the beneficiation of high-ash coal and iron ore, and ultra-low CO2 emitting steel-making technologies that could leverage thermal coal.

The policy will be administered by the Steel Research and Technology Mission of India (SRTMI), which will also lead research and development in the iron and steel industry. SRTMI is looking to partner with international research and academic institutions.

‘These two reforms have the potential to change the Indian coal mining and steel production industries, and Australia has the technology and expertise to support India’s ambitions,’ says Muldoon.

Contact Austrade for more information on mining and METS opportunities in India.