"We will form two more joint ventures to set up cement plants at Rourkela and Burnpur. The Rourkela plant will have a capacity of 2 mt, while the Burnpur unit will have a capacity of 1 mt. The joint venture partners will be decided through a bidding process," Chairman S K Roongta told Business Standard.
New capacity creation for a million tonnes of cement usually requires an investment of Rs 350-400 crore, according to estimates by cement industry sources. Setting up of these two units with a total capacity of 3 million tonnes could require an investment of Rs 1,100-1,200 crore.
SAIL is already developing two cement plants at Bhilai and Bokaro through a joint venture with Jaiprakash Associates, which is a major cement player. The Bhilai plant, with a capacity of 2.2 mt, would be operational by mid-2010. The Bokaro plant, with a capacity of 2 mt, is expected to begin cement production by July 2011.
In both of these joint ventures, SAIL has a 26 per cent stake. The proposed new joint ventures are also expected to have a similar holding structure.
Through concurrent expansions at its five integrated steel plants at Bokaro (Jharkhand), Bhilai (Chhattisgarh), Rourkela (Orissa), Durgapur and Iisco Steel Plant (both West Bengal), SAIL has targeted to step up its total steel production capacity from 14 mt to 23 mt by 2012.
This capacity expansion will result in a significant increase in the volume of slag, which is a byproduct. The slag-based cement plants will enable SAIL to find long-term solutions for the disposal of the byproduct generated at these plants.
The domestic cement industry has a capacity of about 226 mt. It is expected to add another 35-40 mt by the end of the year as most players are augmenting capacities. Cement consumption has been growing at double-digit rates month-on-month, mainly driven by the demand from rural and semi-urban areas. In August, for instance, the industry clocked a despatch growth rate of 17 per cent.