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Fulfilling India's steel ambitions with new tech

We've mentioned India's Coal Secretary, Mr Susheel Kumar, on several occasions.

This is understandable given the role he plays with respect to our brown coal partner NLC's line of reporting through to the Ministry of Coal. NLC is the site for our Integrated Coldry-Matmor project, so it makes sense that NLC has the lead on certain aspects of the project, including the current external financial review being prepared for India's national planning committee NITI Aayog.

But what about iron ore partner NMDC and India's Steel Ministry?

A couple of recent articles have caught our eye and summarise the big picture well:

  • Adopt new tech to cut coking coal use in steel: Steel Secretary (link)
  • Fulfilling India's Ambitions (link)

The article's report on comments by India's Steel Secretary, Ms Aruna Sharma.

"We have to adopt a new technology to reduce use of coking coal in steel making as India and most of Asian countries minus China do not have much coking coal reserves,"

Key takeaways from the articles include:

  • Major government push for infrastructure projects include a 40% to 50% spend on steel, boosting the industry
  • Steel industry capacity target of 300 million tonnes per annum by 2030, up from 126 million tonnes today
  • Steel production of 255 million tonnes a year by 2030, up from 101 million tonnes today

Ms Sharma states:

“The country is targeting a high rate of sustainable economic growth. To make that happen, it has to overcome infrastructure deficit. In infrastructure projects, 40-50% spending will be on steel. That should propel the growth of steel industry,” says Sharma.

“We are in the process of taking our steel capacity to 151 million tonnes by 2020 from 126 million tonnes now... I’m convinced that we are on course to achieve the 2030-31 capacity target [of 300 million tonnes per annum]. Simultaneously, iron ore mining and ferro-alloys production in the upstream will be raised to meet full future demand of steelmakers,” says Sharma.

A key metric by which to benchmark a country's potential is 'steel intensity', which measures steel consumption on a per capita basis.

Despite being the world's third-largest steel producer, India currently consumes a modest 67kg of steel per person per annum. It's aiming for 158kg by 2030. The chart below highlights the steel intensity curve.

Matmor is poised to play into this Indian growth story as a lower-cost alternative to the traditional blast furnace and with the benefit of also solving two other significant problems:

  • India has little in the way of domestic coking coal resources, relying on imports to support the sector, creating a resource security concern.
  • India's domestic iron ore is soft, creating mountains of fines. It's cheaper to import lump ore than to upgrade their fines.

With its ability to utilise India's domestic iron ore fines and lower-cost brown coal, Matmor has the potential to significantly contribute to India's steelmaking targets via abundant, lower-cost unconventional resources in coming decades, at lower CO2 intensity than blast furnace or DRI kiln processes.

Thanks to the drive and vision of the Modi government and both the Ministries of Coal and Steel to seek out, develop and deploy new technologies to overcome such problems, we stand ready to execute a first-of-a-kind project on two first-of-a-kind technologies with two Indian PSU's. It is audacious and unprecedented.

Our project with NLC and NMDC involves an initial ~AUD30 million R&D stage aimed at scaling up our proprietary Coldry and Matmor technologies ahead of a rollout to a commercial scale Coldry-Matmor facility with a steel capacity of 500,000 tonnes per annum.

Given India's ambition to expand steel capacity by more than 170 million tonnes, the potential for Matmor to play a meaningful role following demonstration is apparent.

Our Techno-economic Feasibility (TEF) study completed with NLC and NMDC (link) for the 500,000 tonne per annum integrated steel plant highlighted the potential.

At present, our project is progressing through a detailed review process by NITI Aayog.

This process entails an independent financial review of the project, which is currently being finalised.

Per our recent ASX announcements, all going to plan, we aim to clear the review process, sign the Master Project Agreement and reach financial close with NLC and NMDC by June 30 this year. Then we can get on with helping India improve energy and resource security, diversify raw material choices and reduce its emissions intensity.


Adopt new tech to cut coking coal use in steel: Steel Secretary

Union Steel Secretary Aruna Sharma today batted for adoption of new technology to reduce the use of coking coal in the production of steel.

SourceAdopt new tech to cut coking coal use in steel: Steel Secretary | Money Control

Fulfilling India's Ambitions

India’s steel secretary Aruna Sharma is making a strong pitch to dispel misgivings by steel consumers that under pressure from local steelmakers the government will protect them from foreign competition by putting high tariff barriers in place.

SourceFulfilling India's ambitions | American Metal Market