Will Canada's Coking Coal, Iron Ore Mines Fill India's Gaps?

India has stepped on the gas with its trade relations with Canada, especially in metal and mining matters.

A high-powered team led by India’s minister of steel on a recent visit to Canada has made overtures to their Canadian counterparts seeking cooperation in the sourcing and acquisition of minerals, especially coking coal and iron ore.

Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma explained to reporters during the trip that although India had enough reserves of iron ore, it was an “opportune time” for India’s steel industry to acquire more iron ore mines to meet the requirements of the next generation. Coking coal is an important ingredient in manufacturing iron and steel. In response to a question on India’s iron ore exports, the minister responded by saying the government had taken action, resulting in a sharp drop in exports by 75 percent.

FREE Download: The latest Monthly MMI® Report – covering the Steel/Iron Ore markets.

India and Canada have established a healthy bilateral trade relationship, adversely affected a couple of years ago because of the economic downturn, but restored in the last two years. In 2011, the bilateral trade between the two nations had crossed US $5 billion, an increase of 28 percent over 2010.

The high-profile visit saw a few agreements and MoUs being signed. A report by the Press Trust of India (PTI) said the delegation held a series of meetings with the Government of British Columbia, led by the Premier Christy Clark, wherein both sides identified a number of opportunities for mutual cooperation. The delegates acknowledged that the Indian steel industry was growing at a fast pace, and somewhere down the line would be requiring additional quantities of coking coal, and this could be outsourced from British Columbia.

The meeting discussed issues like equity participation in coal assets, coal asset acquisition and other areas of interest in the coking coal business. A “Cooperation Agreement” was signed between BC’s Minister for International Trade and the Chairman-cum-Managing Director of Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL). The pact expressed the intent to promote and expand bilateral cooperation in the Minerals & Mining sector, and to explore investment opportunities, development and exploration of mining related projects and exchange of technological research and innovation.

The Indian delegation also signed an MoU between RINL and McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, to “collaborate and strengthen research cooperation, in the areas of steelmaking, beneficiation and pellet making from low-grade magnetite and also towards training, exchange of research.”

FREE Download: The latest Monthly MMI® Report – covering the Steel/Iron Ore markets.

Read more Indian perspectives from Sohrab Darabshaw.

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