Sail demands Australian government certifies force majeure on coal supplies

Government-owned producer Steel Authority of India (Sail) has demanded that the Australian government intervene in certifying any force majeure events declared by its long-term coal suppliers there.

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India’s steel minister, Beni Prasad Verma, raised Sail’s concerns with the Australian high commissioner to India, Peter Varghese, during a meeting in New Delhi, the ministry said on Tuesday May 29.

Sail is India’s largest importer of coking coal, taking close to 10 million tpy. Its coking coal procurements were in jeopardy last year after its long-term suppliers in Australia cut off coal shipments to the company, citing force majeure.

This followed the devastating floods in the Australian state of Queensland that halted exports from the mines.

Verma also asked Varghese for Australian government support in facilitating talks between the National Mineral Development Corp (NMDC) and the owners of Queensland coking coal tenements about undertaking mineral exploration, the release said.

Senior ministry officials and representatives of Sail and NMDC were also present during the meeting, the release added.

During the meeting, bilateral issues related to the steel business were discussed, while specific issues relating to Sail and NMDC were talked about at length, the release said.

Verma advised Indian steel companies to explore the possibility of acquiring coking coal assets in Australia. The minister also urged the high commissioner to look into problems faced by Indian steel companies scouting for raw material resources in Australia.

Varghese agreed to provide the necessary support to Indian companies exploring raw material assets in Australia, the release stated.