India seeks Australian mining expertise to meet energy demand

November 4th, 2008 - 4:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Nov 4 (IANS) As India seeks Australian expertise in the mining sector to meet its growing energy demand, over 50 Australian companies are heading to Kolkata to showcase their abilities at the International Mining and Machinery Exhibition (IMME 2008) which opens Wednesday.Despite the global downturn, India’s economic growth averaged nine percent in the past four years and is forecast to be seven percent this year.

“To keep pace with this growth, India needs to modernise the mining sector and run more productive mines. This is the driving force behind the take up of Australian mining technology and services,” Australian Trade Commission’s (Austrade) Chief Economist Tim Harcourt told IANS.

“We also expect to see increased investment opportunities for Australian companies in India, and most definitely an increased interest from India in investment into Australian resources reserves and assets,” says Harcourt.

According to the International Monetary Fund, India’s exports (as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product) were 21.2 percent, nearly half that of China’s at 40.7 percent.

“India is not affected as much by the global financial crisis as other markets including China because it is much more a domestically driven economy, relying less on exports as a percentage of the GDP,” says Austrade’s New Delhi-based Senior Trade Commissioner Peter Linford.

As India moves towards environmentally sustainable options in coal mining, there is strong interest in Australia’s ‘clean coal technology’.

“There’s growing acceptance among the Indian industry that it’s not only environmentally unsustainable to burn coal with an ash content of around 30 to 45 percent, but that it’s also not economical to transport unwashed coal over large distances. So coal washeries are becoming a major area of opportunity for Australia,” says Harcourt.

Australian mining software, especially mine management systems, is much sought after in India and Australian companies see significant potential for growth in equipment and services for underground mining.

With surface coal and minerals exhausted, India is increasingly moving towards large, modern underground mines. “In the past 12 months, Australian companies Thiess Leighton India and India Resources have won significant contracts to provide contract mining services,” says Austrade’s Kolkata-based industry specialist, Partha Sen.

Commenting on the impact of the credit crunch and the exchange rate on Australian resources exports, Harcourt says: “According to the recent DHL survey of Australian export businesses, our exporters regarded India as the No. 2 destination for commodities after China even in the early days of the global credit crunch. Much of the investment in mining infrastructure is `locked in’ and unlikely to be affected”.

Besides attending IMME 2008, the Australian mining delegation led by Australian Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson will visit two open-cut mines in West Bengal.

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