* ArcelorMittal, SAIL officials to meet on Thursday - govt
* Govt official says POSCO keen to expand in India
By Neha Dasgupta and Krishna N. Das
NEW DELHI, Oct 4 India expects a joint venture
between state-owned Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL)
and ArcelorMittal to start producing
automotive-grade steel in two years, a government official said
Officials from the two companies are due to meet on Thursday
to take forward talks about a proposed 60 billion rupee ($902
million) plant that will produce 1.2 million tonnes of steel per
year to begin with, Steel Secretary Aruna Sharma told Reuters.
SAIL and ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel producer,
signed a preliminary agreement in May last year to expand in
what is one of the world's fastest growing steel markets and a
major car exporter.
"In another two years it should be in the manufacturing
stage, provided we freeze everything within one and a half
months and in December we take off," Sharma said. "We will go
more for import replacements. We have solutions for it."
She said the government was working on raising demand for
steel in India - whose per-capita consumption of about 60 kg is
less than one-third of the global average - by replacing
concrete with steel in major infrastructure projects.
The World Steel Association expects India's steel demand to
rise 5.4 percent this year and next, even as countries such as
China see a decline. (bit.ly/2dsfLgw)
Apart from ArcelorMittal, India's growing steel demand is
also keeping other major companies such as South Korea's POSCO
interested, despite regulatory hurdles and
difficulties acquiring land.
Sharma, who moved to the steel ministry more than two months
ago, has already met POSCO officials who are eager to expand
in India despite the de facto scrapping of the company's
proposed $12 billion steel plant in the eastern state of Odisha
after a decade of protests over land.
"They will like a plug-in kind of an arrangement (to set up
a new plant)," she said.
Sharma also said that to protect the domestic steel industry
from cheap imports, the government may impose provisional
anti-dumping on 21 products within two weeks.
Top Indian steel makers such as JSW Steel Ltd,
Tata Steel Ltd and Jindal Steel & Power Ltd
have lobbied the government hard to take more measures to
protect their margins from cheap imports from China, Japan and
($1 = 66.5100 Indian rupees)
(Editing by David Clarke)