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Tata Steel plans big in mineral business

Our Bureau

New Delhi , Nov. 3

TATA Steel has said the company will focus on the minerals business in a major way and is prospecting for titanium dioxide, a key ingredient for paints and high-grade paper, along the Tamil Nadu coast.

"The sand along the eastern coast in the states of Tamil Nadu, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh is rich in titanium dioxide. We have narrowed down on Tamil Nadu to begin with and we would start mining in the near future," a senior Tata Steel official said here.

As the country grew, the need for the mineral, used as a whitening agent, would also grow. At present, most of the demand was met by imports but there were adequate resources already available within the country to cater to the domestic demand, he said.

Tata Steel was also focused on chromium, and as part of its strategy to enhance its business internationally, the company was setting up a Ferro-chrome unit at Richard's Bay in South Africa. "We are awaiting environmental clearance for the Rs 250 crore unit that will produce 1,25,000 tonnes of Ferro-chrome annually," he said.

Production of Ferro-chrome was a power intensive industry and environmental clearance was the most critical aspect, he added.

On Tata Steel's expansion plans, he said that the company was planning to add an additional capacity of two million tonnes to its Jamshedpur facility over and above a one million tonne brown-field expansion that was already underway.

"We are already in the process of adding 1 m.t. additional capacity. That Rs 2,000 crore expansion would be completed by 2005 and would come up partly due to de-bottlenecking and partly due to capacity augmentation. Simultaneously, we are working on a plan to add another 2 m.t. capacity. The detailed plan is likely to be worked out by the end of the current financial year and the capacity would go on stream by 2008," he said.

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