Alumina worry: Vedanta seeks govt meddling with Nalco to feed smelter

Bhubaneswar: Almost a year after sending proposal to buy the National Aluminium Company (Nalco)’s surplus and exportable alumina to feed its aluminium smelters, Vedanta Aluminium Ltd (VAL) on Tuesday sought the State government’s intervention to persuade the former to sell the raw material for VAL’s Jharsuguda smelter.
 
The company, which recently suffered a huge set back to its Rs 40,000 cr mining proposal in Niyamgiri hills following rejection from tribals on forest rights issue at gram sabhas, mentioned that the deal would help generate Nalco extra revenues to the tune of Rs 200 cr annually.
 
“We earnestly request you to please impress upon Nalco to start selling/ allow participation of smelter/companies located in Odisha (specially SEZ) which would be treated as deemed exports for Nalco in their Alumina tenders…” the company’s letter to the State government read.
 
The company pointed out that the Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC)’s non-compliance with the MoU signed with VAL to supply bauxite for its Lanjigarh alumina refinery has put its Jharsuguda aluminium smelter “at great risk.”
 
Referring to resumption of operations at Lanjigarh refinery following a gap of eight months, which is currently running at 40% capacity, VAL further stated that the five lakh tonne/year aluminium smelter at Jharsuguda along with 1215 MW captive Power plant is on operation and presently alumina requirement was being met by import.
 
“The 12 lakh tone/year aluminium smelter (SEZ unit) is ready for commissioning but could not be started due to non-availability of alumina,” the letter said.
In its communiqué the firm mentioned that it was yet to receive a reply from the state-owned aluminium major about its proposal to purchase surplus alumina by participating in their tendering process.
 
Presently Nalco is exporting surplus alumina to the tune of over 1 million tonne per year. According to company sources, Nalco mines 6mt of bauxite annually from its captive mines and owns a 2.2mt refinery in Koraput district. Half of the 2mt alumina is consumed at its smelter in Angul, the rest is mostly exported to global commodity giants.
 
Meanwhile, the State government has sought comments of Nalco’s chairman on the suggestion of VAL.