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Monday,10-August-2020

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Commercial coal mining will reduce India’s dependence on imported fuel: JSPL

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The governments recent announcement to permit coal mining for commercial sale marks a fundamental shift in the government policy to address the continuing shortfall in domestic coal production to meet the countrys requirements, Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) Managing Director V.R Sharma said in an interview with IANS.

India has the world’s fourth largest coal reserve, the country imported 247.1 MT of coal in 2019-20. “The commercial coal mining will likely to reduce India’s dependence upon imported fuel,” he added.

In keeping with JSPL’s stated objective of becoming debt-free in the next few years, JSPL has divested its entire stake in its step down subsidiary, Jindal Shadeed Iron and Steel Co LLC (JSIS Oman). The value of the enterprise deal is estimated to be over $1 billion.

Sharma said, “This is in line with our vision to deleverage our balance sheet and create a much healthier balance sheet for our investors and stakeholders. Our restructuring plan is proceeding as we had envisaged. JSPL is a firm believer in the India growth story, and India’s potential to become an engine of global growth,” he added.

JSPL MD said that even during COVID 19, JSPL Indian operations recorded ever highest monthly steel (including pig iron) production of 626,000 tons in June 2020. “Owing to the Covid-19 lockdown, the domestic steel demand was subdued during the last quarter; hence export evacuation supported the plant operations and capacity utilization,” he added.

He added that improved domestic availability will reduce dependence upon imported thermal coal. Also, India is dependent upon imported metallurgical coal, but the Government’s impetus on Coal Gasification will likely reduce the dependency on imported metallurgical coal in the future.

Q: What has been JSPL’s performance in steel production and sales in the last quarter? Are exports powering steel Consumption?

A: Even during COVID 19, JSPL Indian operations recorded ever highest monthly Steel (including. pig iron) production of 626,000 tons in June 2020 and ever highest quarterly steel (including pig iron) production of 1,670,000 tons in Q1 FY’21.

The company recorded a 12 per cent growth (quarter-on-quarter) in sales volumes and an 8% rise (q-o-q) in standalone steel production (including. pig iron) during Q1 FY’21.

JSPL clocked ever highest standalone export sales of 900,000 tons in Q1 FY’21, the export sales contributed to 58 per cent of total sales volumes in Q1 FY’21. JSPL’s Consolidated Steel (incl. pig iron) Sales rises by 7 per cent Q-o-Q.

Yes, owing to the Covid-19 lockdown, the domestic steel demand was subdued during the last quarter; hence export evacuation supported the plant operations and capacity utilization.

Q: What is the JSPL debt deleveraging strategy and target? What is the rationale for the divestment of the Oman asset?

A: In keeping with JSPL’s stated objective of becoming debt-free in the next few years, JSPL has divested its entire stake in its step down subsidiary, Jindal Shadeed Iron and Steel Co LLC (JSIS Oman). The value of the enterprise deal is estimated to be over $1 billion.

This is in line with our vision to deleverage our balance sheet and create a much healthier balance sheet for our investors and stakeholders. Our restructuring plan is proceeding as we had envisaged.

JSPL is a firm believer in the India growth story, and India’s potential to become an engine of global growth. We think we have an important role to play in the evolution and growth of the Indian steel industry.

Q: What is the JSPL view on import substitution and Atmanirbhar Bharat?

A: India is already Atmanirbhar as far as steel products for infrastructure are concerned. JSPL is pioneered in technology and development of products catering to the requirements of Oil & Gas, Ship Building, Railways. Our peer group has the capacity and capability to deliver special steel to cater to the requirements of the Auto Sector.

On to raw materials, the Indian steel industry is to a certain extent dependent upon imported raw materials like metallurgical coal. In 2007, we decided to produce steel through Indian high ash coal by converting it into syngas and commissioned the world’s first Syngas-based DRI plant in 2013 to make steel. Hence, we demonstrated the capability of making steel by the usage of 100 per cent indigenous raw material.

Q: What is the strategy for the recently announced policy on commercial mining of coal blocks?

A: The government’s recent announcement to permit coal mining for commercial sale marks a fundamental shift in the government policy to address the continuing shortfall in domestic coal production to meet the country’s requirements.

India has the world’s 4th largest coal reserve, the country imported 247.1 MT of coal in 2019-20. The commercial coal mining will likely to reduce India’s dependence upon imported fuel.

Q: What is the capacity of the coal gasification project?

A: JSPL operates the world’s first coal gasification based DRI Plant of 2.0 million tonne capacity at Angul where syngas is used to make direct-reduced iron (DRI) or sponge iron, an input required in the steel-making process.

JSPL’s coal gasification plant capacity is 225,000 NM3 per hour of syngas, which is supporting the 2.0 Million MT of syngas based DRI plant.

Q: How much coal is JSPL buying currently? How can coal imports be reduced?

A: JSPL currently has a requirement of around 5.5 Million MT per year of Metallurgical Coal and 7 Million MT of Thermal coal requirements.

Improved domestic availability will reduce dependence upon imported thermal coal. Also, India is dependent upon imported metallurgical coal, but the Government’s impetus on Coal Gasification will likely reduce the dependency on imported metallurgical coal in the future.

Q: What is the outlook on demand for steel as the economy opens up?

A: The government is pushing for infrastructure-led growth, and investing heavily in its development. The railways’ sector has been the one bright spot in the last few years, in terms of growth and steel use, mainly driven by its capital expenditures in modernization projects and record production of rolling stocks.

The machinery and yellow goods sector demand will likely to become healthy with the advent of the increased mining operation. Governments have already auctioned a sizable number of iron ore mines, and upcoming commercial mining of coal will further add to the demand for yellow goods and other steel products from these segments.

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Business

SpiceJet operates first long-haul wide-body charter flight to Canada

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SpiceJet

Airline major SpiceJet on Saturday became the first Indian budget carrier to operate a long-haul wide-body charter flight to North America.

The airline repatriated 352 Canadian nationals and permanent residency holders from New Delhi to Toronto on Saturday. The airline chartered a wide-body Airbus A330-900 Neo aircraft for the purpose.

The twin-aisle A330 Neo aircraft has a configuration of 353 economy and 18 business class seats.

“Our first-ever long-haul charter flight to Canada is yet another example of our commitment to helping as many people as we can to get back home to their families in these troubled times. Being the first Indian budget airline to operate a non-stop long-haul flight to North America is a proud moment for the SpiceJet family,” Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet, said in a statement.

“We have operated flights across the globe repatriating close to 85,000 people and transporting over 28,000 tonnes of medical and essential supplies, and we intend to keep on with our efforts,” the statement said.

On August 1, SpiceJet had repatriated 269 Indians from Amsterdam to Bengaluru and Hyderabad.

The airline has operated over 515 charter and Vande Bharat flights to help repatriate close to 85,000 stranded Indian citizens from countries such as the Philippines, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, the Netherlands, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Maldives and Sri Lanka.

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PM Narendra Modi to launch Rs 1 lakh crore financing facility on Sunday

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the financing facility of Rs 1 lakh crore under the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund on Sunday and also release the sixth instalment of funds of Rs 17,000 crore to 8.5 crore farmers under the PM-KISAN scheme.

Modi will take part in the event around 11 a.m. via video conferencing and the occasion will be witnessed by lakhs of farmers, cooperatives, and citizens across the country. Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar, will also be present on the occasion.

The Union Cabinet has approved the Central Sector Scheme of financing facility under “Agriculture Infrastructure Fund” of Rs 1 lakh crore. The fund will catalyse the creation of post-harvest management infrastructure and community farming assets such as cold storage, collection centres, processing units.

These assets will enable farmers to get greater value for their produce, as they will be able to store and sell at higher prices, reduce wastage, and increase processing and value addition.

Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in a statement said Rs 1 lakh crore will be sanctioned under the financing facility in partnership with multiple lending institutions.

Eleven of the 12 Public Sector Banks have already signed MOUs with the Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW). A three per cent interest subvention and credit guarantee of up to Rs 2 crore will be provided to the beneficiaries to increase the viability of these projects.

The beneficiaries of the scheme will include farmers, Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS), Marketing Cooperative Societies, Farmer Producer Organization Scheme (FPOs), Self Help Groups (SHGs), Joint Liability Groups (JLG), Multipurpose Cooperative Societies, Agri-entrepreneurs, startups, and Central or state agency or local body sponsored Public-Private Partnership Projects.

The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojna (PM-KISAN) scheme, launched on December 1, 2018 has provided a direct cash benefit of over Rs 75,000 crore to more than 9.9 crore farmers. This has enabled them to fulfil their agricultural requirements and support their families.

The rollout and implementation of the PM-KISAN scheme has happened at an unparalleled pace, with funds being directly transferred into the Aadhaar authenticated beneficiaries’ bank account to prevent leakage and increase convenience for farmers.

The scheme has also been instrumental in supporting farmers during the Covid-19 pandemic, through the release of nearly Rs 22,000 crore to aid the farmers during the lockdown period.

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Petrol and diesel prices may rise again from next week

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Petrol

Consumers might see fuel prices going up again as oil companies are bracing up to pass the rise in global crude and product prices on retail sales.

Accordingly, petrol and diesel prices may begin their rising trend all over again much to the discomfort of fuel consumers that have faced constant increasing prices since June 7.

The pump price of petrol and diesel had remained unchanged for last one week as oil prices were steady and crude was hovering around $42 per barrel mark for past several days. But with crude price now rising and inching towards $45 per barrel mark, oil companies said that they will be left with no option but to raise retail prices of petrol and diesel.

“We will observe the price movement for next couple of days and if oil prices remains firm, a decision may be taken to revise retail product prices again under the daily price revision mechanism,” said an executive of a public sector oil company on condition of anonymity.

Diesel continues to be priced at Rs 73.56 per litre in Delhi while petrol price remains static at Rs 80.43 per litre. This price level has been maintained since last Friday when diesel were cut by a sharp Rs 8.38 per litre following Delhi government’s decision to reduce VAT on the product from 30 per cent to 16.75 per cent.

This price cut has again made diesel cheaper than petrol in the city after more than month. In fact, diesel is cheaper than petrol in Delhi by the widest margin among all metros now.

Delhi was the only major city in the country where diesel prices were higher than petrol. Diesel prices first rose above petrol in Delhi last month, much to the discomfort of the transport sector and the fuel dealers.

The Rs 1.5 per litre differential had led substantial loss of business to pump operators in Delhi as vehicles were getting diesel filled in neighbouring Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

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