South Korea's POSCO suspends planned $12 bn Odisha steel project

17 July 2015

South Korean steel giant Posco has put on hold its $12 billion steel project in Odisha due to delays in various regulatory approvals.

"We are tentatively suspending the Odisha (India) project due to lack of any progress," Posco Chairman and CEO Kwon Oh Joon said.

"Business conditions at home and abroad have changed due to drop in global steel demand, growing deficit of subsidiaries, which have led us to come to a conclusion that we must step up our reform efforts," he said at an investor event in Seoul yesterday.

The steel major's India spokesperson said however that it is not quitting Odisha, even as its over USD 12 billion project has been hanging fire for almost a decade.

"That is not the fact. Due to no progress in the project area, much of office space was lying vacant in Odisha. It was decided to renovate the office space to a smaller area," a Posco spokesperson told on being asked whether there are plans to exit 12 million tonne (MT) Odisha project.

Posco has been facing problems regarding its mega project in Odisha on account of delays in raw material security, land acquisition as well as other clearances.

The company is reducing its unused office space and other expenditure that can be stopped as part of a massive global cost restructuring programme, said a person in the know of developments.

Posco has announced the restructuring programme, which involves reducing "30 per cent of the overseas business within the Group".

This will involve "early turnaround of newly run overseas business" as well as "dispose/liquidate/merger non core business within the group".

In March as well, Posco had said that it is not pulling out from the multi-billion project in Odisha.

"We are still on Odisha project," a company spokesperson had said then.

He had also said that 6 employees have "voluntarily" resigned and denied it was any sign of Posco pulling out from the project.

The steel maker's proposed $12 billion project at Jagatsinghpur district in Odisha for producing 12 million tonne per annum (MTPA) steel is viewed as the largest FDI in India.

It has, however, been stalled for about a decade due to regulatory hurdles, including delays in land acquisition.

Posco had entered into a pact with Odisha government on June 22, 2005 for the plant, which included iron ore mine development.

Apart from the delays, in a fresh blow to the company this year, the Centre said Posco will have to participate in auction to get iron ore mines to feed its facility instead of direct allotment as assured earlier.