Even as Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL) is seemingly frustrated over the delay in allotment of alternative bauxite mines by the Orissa government and is close to finalizing a deal to source bauxite from Gujarat to feed its alumina refinery at Lanjigarh, the state is in no hurry to allot bauxite mines to the company.
The Saxena committee's report on proposed bauxite mining at Niyamgiri hills by VAL and the subsequent cancellation of Stage-II forest clearance by the Union ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) appears to have pushed the state government on the back foot.
"We are in no hurry to allot bauxite mines to Vedanta Aluminium.
There are alternative mines which the company had sought but we have to act with caution especially in the aftermath of the rejection of Stage-II forest clearance for Niyamgiri by the (MoEF). Any decision on allotment of alternative bauxite mines to Vedanta will be taken after due consideration of several factors including the impact of mining operations on the environment and livelihood of the locals and the compensation to be paid to them”, a highly placed official source told Business Standard.
VAL is understood to have resumed talks with the Gujarat government for ensuring long-term supply of bauxite for its refinery at Lanjigarh. The company was set to sign a pact with the Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation for supply of 600,000-800,000 tonnes of bauxite every year to its Lanjigarh refinery.
The state industries minister Raghunath Mohanty said, “Vedanta had initially made applications for seven bauxite mines. Any decision on allotment of alternative bauxite mines to the company will be made after due examination and as per the appropriate procedures.”
Out of seven alternative bauxite mines sought by Vedanta, five were in Rayagada district with the remaining two in Kalahandi district. The five mines being eyed by VAL in Rayagad district include Sarambai, Malipadar & Kutamal spread over 177.694 hectares; Siadimal spread over 4.95 hectares; Badamaribhata on 4.89 hectares; Kutamal and Kashipur spread over 4.966 hectares and Kutamal on 4.98 hectares.
In Kalahandi district, the company had applied for two mines- Punjam, Raipadar and Ranapur over 580.43 hectares and Kariapat, Salpara and Jilgaon on 3172.74 hectares.
As per the MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) signed between the state government and the company, the state had assured to make arrangements for supply of 150 million tonnes of bauxite.
The bauxite mines at Niyamgiri hills had reserves of 75 million tonnes which would last for four years as VAL had announced to scale up capacity of its refinery from one million tonne (mtpa) per annum to six mtpa and the company needed 18 mtpa of bauxite to meet its capacity expansion.