Bhubaneswar: London-based Vedanta Resources Plc.’s bauxite mining plan atop the Niyamgiri hills to feed its 1 MTPA Lanjigarh alumina refinery has run into rough weather following rejection of the proposal by the 12th and last gram sabha at Jarapa village in Rayagada district.
The company which had pinned high hopes on the Monday gram sabha to get a positive response for mining and stay afloat in its Rs 40,000 crore Odisha investment plan after all the eleven previous village meetings had echoed negative, now seems to be keeping its fingers crossed on decision of the State government basing on the inter ministerial committee’s long term linkage policy report for supply of ore to local industries.
Though contents of the committee’s report have been kept confidential, the company expressed hope to get requisite bauxite for its refinery from the State government with which the former had signed an MoU to supply raw material for its Lanjigarh refinery in Kalahandi district.
"If aluminium industries cannot survive in bauxite-rich Odisha, then they are not feasible anywhere in the country," Vedanta Aluminium Chief Operating Officer Mukesh Kumar had said after meeting Chief Secretary J K Mohapatra adding, "We hope that VAL will get the required raw material from the State."
However, given the fact that the company has resumed operations at its Lanjigarh refinery last month which has been idle since last December 5 due to shortage of bauxite, it must be mulling for a permanent solution to keep its raw material woe aside.
Currently, Vedanta Aluminium is running its refinery at 60% capacity, with bauxite sourced from Gujarat and Chhattisgarh, company officials said.
Meanwhile, sensing difficulty to source bauxite from the Niyamgiri hills for its Lanjigarh plant amid rejections at gram sabhas, the company has recently urged the Odisha government to explore the prospects of mining laterite, which with some beneficiation may prove an alternative to bauxite, a crucial input for making aluminium.
Vedanta Resources has applied for laterite deposits to run the plant till bauxite becomes available, sources said.