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India to Boost South African Imports of Gold, Coal, Gems, Metals

MMTC Ltd., India’s largest state-run trading company, will boost imports of South African gold, coal, nickel and chrome after opening its first office in the country.

MMTC agreed with South Africa’s FirstRand Ltd. to buy 15 metric tons of gold for about $70 million in 2011 and may boost coal imports to about 15 million tons from 12 million tons last year, Marketing Director Ved Prakash said today. The company also plans to build a diamond-cutting factory in South Africa.

Indian demand for South Africa’s coal contributed to Asia overtaking Europe in 2009 as the largest shipping destination for the fuel used in power plants. Last year, Richards Bay Coal Terminal Ltd., which ships most of South Africa’s coal, sent 59 percent to Asia and a quarter to Europe. India imported about 800 tons of gold last year, making it the world’s largest buyer.

Indian consumption of gold is “insatiable,” the country’s Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said at the opening of the office in Johannesburg. In addition, five of every six diamonds produced in the world go to India, Sharma said.

MMTC’s move into South Africa, the largest platinum and ferrochrome maker, will boost trade with India and cut costs, South African Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said.

AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., Gold Fields Ltd. and Harmony Gold Mining Co. are South Africa’s largest gold producers, while Anglo American Plc, BHP Billiton Ltd., Exxaro Resources Ltd. and Xstrata Plc are among the largest coal producers.

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