Vedanta to discuss bauxite mining issue with Odisha govt

Mumbai: After more than half the gramsabhas in the tribal villages opposed bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri hills, Vedanta Aluminium today said it will discuss the fallout with the Odhisa government soon, but will continue to operate the plant by sourcing raw material from other sources.
"Our priority is to run the plant through domestic supplies of raw material. However, we will discuss the issue (of opposition to mining in the Niyamgiri hills) with the state administration soon," a company official told PTI.
The one-million tonne Vedanta's alumina plant at Lanjigarh in the southern part of the mineral rich state, was reopened last fortnight after being shut for close to seven months due to shortage of key raw material bauxite and the local tribals' opposition to mining from the nearby Niyamgiri hills.
Noting that the plant is running only at 60 per cent capacity, the official said under its contractual agreement with the Odisha government, the state has to supply around 150 MT of bauxite over a 25 year period.
"We will discuss the matter over sourcing of bauxite with the state government soon," the official said, adding that at present, the plant is being run using ore from the neighbouring Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.
The official added that currently, there is no decision on importing bauxite for running operations.
In the view of opposition to mining in Niyamgiri Hills, the Supreme Court in April this year had directed the state to conduct grmasabhas (village meets) to elicit views of the local tribals on mining in their areas.
Subsequently, more than half of the gramsabhas had opposed the mining in the hills citing religious reasons for their opposition. But this created apprehension on raw material supply for the plant in the long run.
Vedanta Aluminium, a subsidiary of Vedanta Resources Plc, operates alumina refinery, aluminium smelter along with a captive power plant in eastern state of Odisha.