After NTPC and Coal India, NMDC too may exit from International Coal Ventures Ltd (ICVL) and has begun scouting for overseas coking coal assets acquisition on its own, putting a question mark on the venture's survival itself.
"CIL, NTPC and NMDC are scouting around for acquisitions on their own as well, which invariably leads to a compromise in their involvement in ICVL," a steel ministry appointed committee, constituted for studying the procedure for import of coking coal, said in a recent report.
NTPC has already expressed its intention to go out of the ICVL fold as the consortium's focus is more on coking coal and the need of the power major is of thermal coal.
CIL Board had in March decided to exit the consortium saying that it was not advantageous for it as it involves the company in a financial burden, but without commensurate advantage.
Now, with NMDC is also looking for coal mines acquisition and distancing itself for the venture, the future of ICVL is quite uncertain since it will now have to continue with only two of the original promoters - SAIL and RINL. It is unlikely to get a new partner to rope in.
When contacted, NMDC's Technical Director N K Nanda admitted that the company was indeed on the look out for acquisitions of coke mines abroad on its own.
But, he added that it should not be seen as intention to break out from ICVL.
"We are very much a part of ICVL (as of now)," Nanda said. Meanwhile, ICVL's Chairman C S Verma is now at the helm of affairs in both SAIL and NMDC.
For coal mines acquisition abroad, ICVL was incorporated in May 2009 as a joint venture between five state-run firms. SAIL and CIL each hold 28% stake and RINL, NMDC and NTPC 14% each in ICVL. The ICVL Board is empowered to make investments up to Rs 1,500 crore. However, despite efforts ICVL has not been able to make the cut so far. The consortium aims to be an owner of 500 million tonnes reserves by 2019-20.
Verma had in March said ICVL was close to acquiring a coking coal asset in the Bowen Basin, but nothing happened so far. It is learnt that ICVL is also participating in a bidding process to acquire 10% equity stake in a greenfield coking coal asset in the area.