Vedanta exploring other bauxite sources

Lanjigarh: Hopeful of Central nod for six-fold expansion for its alumina refinery here soon, Vedanta today said it was also exploring various bauxite sources to feed its unit, hit by denial of mining operations in Niyamgiri hills.

"We are hopeful that clearance will be given for expanding the capacity of our alumina refinery from present one mtpa to six mtpa," Mukesh Kumar, President and COO of Vedanta`s alumina refinery here told PTI here.

Stating that Vedanta group chairman Anil Agarwal discussed the matter with Union Environment minister Jairam Ramesh recently, he said the company hopes for early clearance as it was fulfilling all laid down conditions and complying with green laws without causing slightest damage to environment.

"Moreover, we are not interested in litigation as we want to concentrate on accelerating our work," he said

Describing raw material crunch as a major constraint, Kumar said the company has applied for around eleven bauxite sites in Orissa and expects the state government as well as Centre to expedite applications for at least two reserves.

Vedanta was seriously pursuing nearby Sasubohumali site, which is estimated to have around 82 million tonnes of bauxite, besides Kutramali and Karlapet reserves, he said adding the company was now getting around 60 per cent of raw material for Lanjigarh refinery from Balco in Chhattisgarh.

The rest was being arranged from states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh, while the company was still unable to get any bauxite inside Orissa, he said.

Stating that Orissa was home to around 1800 million tonnes of bauxite, the Vedanta refinery COO said a huge volume to the tune of 800 million tonnes were reserved in Kalahandi region where company`s alumina plant was located.

"Area within about 30 km radius from Lanjigarh houses around 800 million tonnes of bauxite," he said adding apart from pursuing major bauxite sites, Vedanta was also exploring other small reserves in the region.

Vedanta would be able to operate its plant with expanded capacity for the next 35-40 years if it is allotted around 35 per cent of the bauxite reserve stored in Kalahandi region alone, Kumar said.

"We are working with a positive approach and hope to overcome the crisis created following environment ministry`s rejection of mining operation in Niyamgiri hill by exploring these wide range of options," he said.

Moreover, Orissa is believed to have the potential of another 1000 million tonnes of bauxite reserves, Kumar said adding that the government is undertaking an exercise to explore these potential.