Will Vedanta proceed sans Niyamgiri to revive Lanjigarh refinery?

Bhubaneswar: With the third gram sabha on Tuesday at Tadijhola village in Kalahandi district echoing ‘no mining in Naiyamgiri’ voice of the two previous village meetings in Rayagada district, Vedanta Alumina Ltd (VAL) which recently resumed operations at its Lanjigarh refinery is understandably considering to run the unit full-fledged without hoping much from Niyamgiri deposits, given that the lined-up gram sabhas might encore a similar view.
 
“Of course we are planning to run the (Lanjigarh) refinery at full capacity. But in long term, its not at all viable to operate the unit, importing raw materials always as we are doing it right now. Not only Vedanta, no company would like to run any unit with import as the only option when the raw material is available locally,” VAL COO Mukesh Kumar told OTV.
 
Though Kumar did not officially comment on the adverse outcome of the Tuesday gram sabha, he said, “It will be premature enough to tell anything about the ongoing gram sabhas as I am yet to go into details about the proceedings, but we are keeping all options open,” quipped Kumar.
 
The Vedanta official’s statement resembles his earlier one on Monday when he said, “We are hopeful the inter-ministerial group’s (IMG) recommendation will make available bauxite for Lanjigarh refinery.” Kumar had a discussion with chief secretary JK Mohapatra on Monday and apprised him of the difficulties faced by the company in the running of its refinery.
 
According to reports, the company has also filed an application to allow mining from 25-30 small mines around the mineral rich Niyamgiri hills. Besides, to feed its refinery and reduce ore worry, VAL is also eyeing on the pending mining approval of Tikirimali and Kisanmali mines in Rayagada and Kalahandi districts respectively, applied by two private companies.
 
Earlier, VAL had urged the state government to expedite processing of pending applications of OMC, especially those bauxite leases falling under non-forest areas. These applications are either at PL (prospecting license) or ML (mining lease) stages.
 
The small bauxite deposits where OMC has applied for a ML are Maliparbat, Karnopodikonda, Ballada, Kakrimali, Hatimali and Majhingamali in Koraput district, Kisunmali in Kalahandi district and Choranimaribhata-A, Choranmaribhata-B, Siadimala-east and Siadimali-west in Rayagada district.
 
Besides, the company’s hope to get raw materials from state-run Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) has rekindled after the State Government wrote the Union Mines Ministry last month to reserve Karlapat Bauxite Deposit in favour of OMC.