State to discuss alumina refinery issue with VAL tomorrow

New Delhi: Odisha government has called Vedanta Aluminium for a meeting tomorrow on supply of bauxite to the company's closed alumina refinery in the state amid several representations by local people to reopen the plant.
The meeting has been called by a high-level ministerial committee, which was set up some time back for formulation of a policy for supply of ore to state-based industries, official sources said.
"Vedanta Aluminium has been asked to give a presentation and discuss other options for ensuring bauxite supplies for the plant so that the operations can be resumed at the earliest," they added.
The inter-ministerial committee is headed by state finance minister Prasanna Acharya and has two other members — Steel and Mines Minister R K Singh and Industries Minister Niranjan Pujari.
On December 5 last year, Vedanta Aluminium (VAL) had shut its one million tonnes alumina refinery at Odisha's Lanjigarh on December 5 due to severe shortage of bauxite — the necessary mineral to produce alumina, the intermediate product of aluminium.
The closure of the refinery had impacted about 7,000 jobs, directly or indirectly in the Eastern state, leading to several agitations by the local population.
The state government had received several representations recently when Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had visited the area for reopening the alumina refinery.
Earlier, in its closure notice to Odisha's labour and industries department, served on September 5, 2012, VAL had said that running the alumina refinery is no longer sustainable "unless Odisha government finds a solution for supply of bauxite".
The company has invested Rs 50,000 crore in the refinery along with an aluminium smelter of 1.5 mtpa and a captive power plant. According to Vedanta, the refinery was meant to operate through the grade of bauxite, which are available in Odisha only.
Alumina is the intermediate product to produce aluminium.
Three tonnes of bauxite is required to produce one tonne of alumina and half a tonne of aluminium can be extracted from one tonne of alumina.
At about 1.7 billion tonnes, Odisha has nearly two-third of India's total bauxite reserves. They are considered to be of high grade due to its low silica content.