Vedanta Aluminium Ltd (VAL), which last week announced its intention to reopen the alumina refinery at Lanjigarh (Odisha) by June-end, on Friday asserted the plant operation would not be sustainable unless the company gets bauxite from within the state.
“We expect to reopen the refinery by the end of this month. The company will be sourcing bauxite from Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. We will get bauxite from Bharat Aluminium Company (Balco) mines in Chhattisgarh. Some raw material would also be coming from the private miners,” said S K Roongta, managing director, VAL, after meeting Odisha chief secretary B K Patnaik here on Friday.
Asked if VAL can run the refinery uninterrupted, he said, “We can't run it on a sustained basis without getting bauxite from Odisha. But, we will try to run the refinery for as long as we can. If we have adequate bauxite, we will run the refinery at full capacity”.
VAL’s Lanjigarh refinery has been facing bauxite crunch since going on stream in 2007. The refinery was built on assurance of bauxite from nearby Niyamagiri hills. However, with Union ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) disallowing bauxite excavation at Niyamgiri, the company was forced to shut the refinery from December 5 last year.
Roongta said, VAL has already invested Rs 60,000 crore on various projects in Odisha. “VAL's refinery is the only industry operating in Kalahandi area. The refinery has offered direct and indirect employment to over 7000 people”, he added.
Vedanta Group firm Balco's Kawardah bauxite mine is going to reopen soon. The mine will assure continuous supply of bauxite to the tune of 120,000 tonne every month. Some private miners in Gujarat have assured VAL around 70,000 tonne of bauxite supplies for this month. To operate at full capacity, VAL needed 300,000 tonnes of bauxite every month.
Responding to a query on whether VAL got any assurance from the state government on alternative bauxite supplies, he said, “The state government has constituted an inter-ministerial committee for raw material linkage for industries. We have put up our representation before the committee. Now, the government has to decide on arranging bauxite for us from alternative sources.”
In an elaborate presentation before the inter-ministerial committee in February, VAL had urged the state government to expedite processing of applications of state controlled miner Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) for bauxite mining leases, particularly those falling under non-forest area.
The company has filed 26 applications for bauxite mining leases of which 14 are at PL stage and the balance 12 at ML stage. Pointing out that there are 10 bauxite deposits- Lanjigarh, Karlapat, Sijimali, Kutrumali, Sasbahumali, Majingamlai, Kissanmali, Hatimali, Karnapadikonda and Gandhamardan within 160 km radius of VAL refinery, the company has suggested that the state government may allocate any of these deposits for long-term bauxite security of the plant.