Indian miner to expand operations at Rio's former Mozambique coal assets

Indian miner to expand operations at Rio's former Mozambique coal assets

Operations in Mozambique, (Image courtesy of ICVL)

India’s International Coal Venture Private Ltd (ICVL), which acquired Rio Tinto’s (LON, ASX:RIO) coal assets in Mozambique a year ago, is planning to boost annual production at its Benga mine from 5.3 million tonnes to 13 million tonnes in the next five years.

Speaking at Mozambique coal conference, ICVL's director Nirmal Chandra Jha said Monday he is aware of the fact that the country’s current infrastructure would not be able to handle such a output hike.

"We hope that in five years, the infrastructure will also improve. That's a big hope," Jha told Reuters.

In 2013, Rio was forced to take a $3 billion charge on its Mozambique-based coking coal ventures because of lack of necessary infrastructure to bring projects on stream.

The acquisition of Rio’s Benga mine and other coal projects in Mozambique’s Tete province was the first one for ICVL. The firm was formed only in 2009 with investments from steelmakers Steel Authority of India Ltd. and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd., iron ore producer NMDC Ltd., Coal India Ltd. and power generator NTPC Ltd. to buy coking coal mines overseas.

India has been eying Mozambique as a potential source of coal for a while. The country has some of the world's largest untapped sources of the fossil fuel, but is still recovering from a civil war that ended two decades ago. It is also conveniently located on the western rim of the Indian Ocean.