Nalco ready to invest out of Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Less than a week after expressing eagerness to invest Rs 30,000 core in Odisha, Nalco today said that it will prefer a conducive atmosphere in the country for investment.

“We hope the Odisha govt will extend all support to us we need for the proposed investment. If we face any problem in the State, we are ready to move to other states,” Nalco CMD TK Chand said.

The statement of Chand, when Posco has almost backtracked on its Jagatsinghpur steel project and Vedanta already announced to shut its Lanjigarh refinery in a phased manner, has raised questions on the State government’s pro-industry approach.

Meanwhile the State government has assured that it will extend all possible support to the Navratna company.
“We’ll do our best for Nalco if it wishes to invest in Odisha,” Steel and Mines minister Prafulla Mallick said.
In a similar development, Aluminium industry leaders today met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and urged him to raise the import duty on the metal to check cheap imports from China, a scenario that can impact investments worth Rs 1.2 lakh crore.

The delegation from industry body Aluminium Association of India was led by Vedanta Group CEO Tom Albanese, Hindalco Deputy Managing Director D Satish Pai and Nalco CMD T K Chand.

“We are here to present aluminium industry’s case and the difficulty we are facing. Finance Minister gave us a patient hearing. He is aware of our situation and we are quite sure that he will take the right decision,” Pai told reporters here after the meeting.

When asked if industry will cut capacity and workforce, he said this is an individual decision.

Primary aluminium producers — Vedanta, Hindalco and Nalco — have invested around Rs 1.2 lakh crore to increase the production capacity from 2.1 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) to 4.1 MTPA by 2018-19 fiscal, industry sources said.

The present situation on account of cheap imports from China is impacting investments and government needs to check this. Aluminium industry can contribute to India’s growth, but domestic production costs are rising while globally they are falling, they added

Last month, Balco, part of Anil Agarwal-led Vedanta Ltd, had said that it has shut down its aluminium rolling business due to steep fall in the prices of the metal besides dumping from China and falling margins.

During the same month, Vedanta Aluminium said it has started the closure process of one of its production stream, which will lead to the Lanjigarh facility’s output declining to half and impacting up to 2,000 jobs.

Sources said the government has asked the industry to provide the results (performance) of various companies for it to study and ascertain whether a hike in import duty is really needed.

Primary producers are ruing that production cost of aluminium is around USD 2,000 per tonne, while prices at the London Metal Exchange (LME) have slumped to USD 1,600 a tonne.