“We are making all efforts to source bauxite from different sources. Hopefully, something will work out in 2-3 days”, said Mukesh Kumar, president and chief operating officer, VAL.
Asked if the state government gave any assurance to make bauxite available for the plant, Kumar said, “There was no specific discussion on bauxite availability for our alumina refinery. The state government may be making efforts. We are also trying hard at our level.”
A high-level team of VAL led by its managing director S K Roongta called on Odisha chief secretary B K Patnaik on Saturday. Pramod Suri, chief executive officer of VAL was also present.
Roongta declined to share anything with the media.
The aluminium firm on September 6 had served a notice to the state labour department, intending to shut the refinery by December 5 as raw material crunch seriously threatened continuance of the plant operation.
Presently, VAL is running its one million tonne refinery at 60 per cent capacity on bauxite supplies from Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation (GMDC) and also from Balco's Kawardah mines in Chattisgarh.
Balco's mine is supplying 3,000 tonne of bauxite every day to the refinery. GMDC had despatched 90,000 tonne in two consignments. VAL needs 10,000 tonne of bauxite per day to run the plant at full capacity.
Recently, Vedanta Resources chairman Anil Agarwal had called on chief minister Naveen Patnaik, impressing upon the need to make available bauxite to the company.
VAL had also approached both Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (Fimi) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (Ficci), seeking a ban on bauxite exports. While VAL was struggling to keep its refinery operations afloat for want of bauxite, the raw material continued to be exported by private miners in Gujarat and Maharashtra due to better price realizations.
The company has not been allotted any mining lease in Odisha and fully depends on externally-sourced bauxite to run its refinery. It had entered into a pact with state-controlled miner Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) for supply of bauxite from Niyamgiri hills.
However, attempts to mine bauxite in the ecologically-sensitive hills were thwarted by the Union environment ministry which scrapped the Stage-II forest clearance on August 24, 2010.