A battle over control is understood to have hit the steel plant project of state-owned miner NMDC with Russia's second-biggest steel maker OAO Severstal .

The two companies signed a MoU in December 2010 but are yet to sign a joint venture agreement to build the proposed £Mt/y capacity steel plant in the state of Karnataka, southern India.

A representative of NMDC said that the Russian company was asking for control over the JV, which was envisaged as a 50:50 partnership between the two companies. NMDC, the country's largest iron ore producer, say they are not yet ready to give control to Severstal and are studying the matter. It has appointed consultants as well as a law firm to look into the proposed agreement and suggest a suitable way forward. A result is expected by June or July.

The signing of the JV has been delayed against the earlier timeline of December last year. Steel minister Beni Prasad Verma had visited Russia in November during which NMDC and Severstal signed an 'Implementation Protocol' to take the venture closer to the signing of the final agreement. The protocol suggested that NMDC and Severstal would fully meet the joint venture's captive requirements of both iron ore and coking coal so that the project would be self-sufficient in primary raw materials.