Marking its foray into the titanium sector, state-owned steel major SAIL signed an agreement on Thursday with Kerala Metal and Minerals Ltd and Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation to set up a joint venture for producing titanium sponge and metals.
The first phase of the project envisaged setting up a 10,000 tonne annual capacity plant to produce titanium sponge, which he termed as the 'metal of the future', SAIL chairman CS Verma told reporters after signing the MoU.
The estimated cost of the unit, proposed at Chavara in Kollam district where KMML's plant is located, is around Rs. 2,500 crore and MECON, the unit under the steel ministry, had already prepared a brief on the project.
Verma said a detailed project report would be made by appointing a consultant. Initial plans are to have main raw material titanium tetrachloride produced at the KMML plant. Later the JV itself could do the mining if necessary sanctions are given by the state government, he added.
He also said Sail was interested in associating itself with Kochi Metro and other transport projects planned by the Kerala government.
Steel special secretary Bharat Bhushan said SAIL is also interested in the proposed rail wagon manufacturing unit in Palakkad. Though they had planned it under the PPP model, they were not able to find a suitable private partner and SAIL had expressed interest in it, he said.
Railways had responded positively to SAIL's request, he said, adding if it fructified, it would entail an additional investment of Rs. 550 crore by SAIL in Kerala.
Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy said with this unit, India would become the largest Titanium sponge producing country in Asia.
Industries minister PK Kunhallikutty was also present at the occasion.