Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal will talk with his counterparts in South Africa and Mozambique during his visit from January 5 to secure coal assets, aimed at bridging the growing domestic demand-supply gap.
"We will ask for more coal blocks as our requirement is increasing continuously. We will discuss the issue with both the governments -- South Africa and Mozambique," Jaiswal told PTI.
South Africa and Mozambique are two major destinations for coal-hungry firms across the globe, since, the resource used for steel-making and power generation are scarce.
India, which largely depends upon state-owned Coal India Ltd for meeting its domestic need, is likely to see as much as 83 million tonnes of short supply in the current fiscal. All deficits are met through imports.
"Acquiring assets abroad will be one of our main priorities this year," Jaiswal said.
The minister will be accompanied by Coal Secretary, C Balakrishnan and Coal India Chairman, Partha Bhattacharya among other officials for the government-to-government level talks.
At present, Coal India has two coal blocks in Mozambique, where it plans to begin its exploration in the next fiscal, while the production is expected to begin from 2014-15.
Coal India Chairman, Partha Bhattacharya had earlier said that both the blocks are estimated to have combined coal reserves of about one billion tonnes.
However, connectivity between the coal blocks and nearest port is a big transportation hurdle and the issue will be figured prominently with the talks with Mozambique government, Jaiswal said.
"We are going to request them to build a bridge on the Dcondezi river, which falls between the coal blocks and port and reduces the time to five months (in a year) for carrying out geological prospecting and exploration," he said.
Jaiswal added his delegation will also hold discussions on transferring of coal to oil (CTO) and underground Coal Gasification technologies with its South African counterpart and petro-chemical giant Sasol.
Sasol is the world leader in coal to liquid (CTL) and gas to liquid (GTL) technologies, which converts natural gas and coal into petro products like diesel, naptha etc. Its Secunda plant in South Africa with 1,60,000 barrels per day capacity is the world’s largest facility of its kind.
It has also announced to set up a joint venture with the Tata group to build a CTL plant, worth $ 10 billion, in Orissa with a capacity of 80,000 barrels oil per day. The plant is expected to be operational by 2018.