January 22, 2015 / 1:56 PM / 3 years ago

POSCO opens India steel mill, but mega project stuck

NEW DELHI, Jan 22 (Reuters) - South Korea’s POSCO inaugurated a $709 million steel mill in western India on Thursday, looking to gradually scale up its presence in the emerging market despite having to wait for a decade to get started on a $12 billion steelmaking plant.

The mill in the western state of Maharashtra has an annual capacity of 1.8 million tonnes and will promote the “Make in India” campaign championed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the company and steel and mines minister Narendra Singh Tomar said.

“We assure all support to other such companies looking to establish their production facilities in India,” Tomar said, urging POSCO to help local companies step up their technology.

The mill will produce steel mainly for automakers including Tata Motors, Maruti Suzuki and Mahindra & Mahindra.

POSCO already has steel processing centres in the cities of Pune, Chennai and near New Delhi, but it has made little progress on the steel plant in eastern Odisha state that would be the biggest foreign direct investment in India.

The company has yet to start work on the 12 million tonnes-a-year plant due to stiff opposition to land acquisition and delays in securing permission to mine iron ore, a key raw material for steel.

Recent changes to India’s mining laws may further delay the company’s access to iron ore. (Reporting by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Mark Potter)

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