VAL unsure on operation of its refinery

Bhubaneswar: Uncertainty prevails over operation of Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL)`s refinery in Kalahandi (rpt Kalahandi) district as it is facing `acute scarcity` of bauxite, a major raw material.

"Yes, we are running out of raw material. The company is now unable to arrange bauxite from other states due to certain logistic problems," VAL`s managing director S K Rungta told reporters after meeting Chief Secretary B K Patnaik here.

Stating that the factory was established in bauxite- rich Kalahandi (rpt Kalahandi) district because of its abundance, Rungta said VAL has not been able to get any bauxite from Odisha.

The London-based Vedanta Resources operating a 1 mtpa capacity refinery plant at Lanjigarh since August 2007, required at least 10,000 tonne of bauxite daily.

"Though the state government committed to provide 150 millon tonne of bauxite for VAL`s plant, not a gram was given to us during the last five years," a senior official of the company said.

"We have so far run the refinery by arranging bauxite from Jharkhand, Chhattishgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. But, now it is not possible to get more raw material from other states," VAL`s Chief Operating Officer Mukesh Kumar told PTI over phone from Lanjigarh.

Stating that there was no stock of bauxite at the plant, Kumar said "Though it is painful to stop operation, we do not know what will happen the next day."

Though the company applied for 26 bauxite reserves in the state, nothing was finalised due to different reasons, he said.

So far the company has invested Rs 9,000 crore in the project which provided employment to 7,000 people including direct jobs to 3,000, Kumar said.

"We have set up the plant at a place where about 800 million tonne of bauxite is reserved. But, unfortunately, not a gram is available for VAL," Kumar said.

While the supply from Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh has been hit due to regulatory hurdles, sources said the demand in the export market has made sourcing from Gujarat difficult for VAL.

Since the Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation has not floated tender for sale of bauxite in the recent past, VAL was unable to get the raw material from there, they said.