BHUBANESWAR: Odisha government has strongly refuted Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL)’s charges of iron ore shortage for end use plants and ore price here being one of the highest in the country.
In a point-by-point rebuttal to all issues raised by JSPL in a recent communication to the State government, the Steel and Mines department said the average sales price published by the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) showed that the rise in prices of ore ranges between 170 per cent (pc) and a maximum of 300 pc and not 500 pc as indicated by the company.
“It is observed that while the prices of iron ore between February 2020 and April 2021 in the 60 Fe grade and above of lumps and fines have seen an average increase of around Rs 1,453 per tonne (1.6 tonne of ore is required to make one tonne of steel), the steel prices witnessed a steep rise of Rs 23,850 per tonne in case of hot rolled coil and Rs 27,280 per tonne for cold rolled coil between May 2020 and April 2021 which is 16 and 19 times of the hike in price of iron ore respectively,” said the letter by officer on special duty, Steel and Mines, BN Acharya.
The letter was in response to the June 30 letter of JSPL Managing Director VR Verma who while flagging the issues of iron ore shortage and high prices of ore had urged the State government to invoke the pre-emption policy to ensure steady supply of raw materials to end use plants in the State at reasonable rates. “There are dichotomies between the prescription made and the practice followed by JSPL. The concerns raised by you do not match with the actions at the ground level taken by JSPL,” the reply stated.
Responding to JSPL’s projection of 18 MT of iron ore requirement annually, the Department said, a simple calculation showed that the actual requirement of ore - by the conversion factor of 1:1.6 (steel to ore) - for its steel plant at Angul with an installed capacity of 6 MTPA comes to 9.6 MTPA assuming that the plant is running at full rated capacity. Similarly, JSPL allegation that merchant mines are deliberately operating below the capacity of the limit approved by environmental clearance (EC) authority, it said, “It is observed that the lessee has been operating the mines (TRB Iron Ore Mines-Koira) at 80 pc of the EC limit during last four years since 2017-18.”
On the steel major’s claim of rampant despatch and export of iron ore when end use plants in the State are starving for the raw material, Acharya said almost 98 pc of its production during 2020-21 and 21-22 has been dispatched outside State and exported.