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Vedanta Aluminium Ltd (VAL) whose smelter plant has run into a crisis as a fall-out of raw material crunch crippling its alumina refinery at Lanjigarh, said it is ready to source alumina from National Aluminium Company (Nalco) at export price.
“Our smelter operations have been affected because of the bauxite crisis surrounding our alumina refinery. We are in talks with Nalco and have requested them to offer us alumina at their export price,” Anil Agarwal , chairman of London listed Vedanta Resources Plc told the media here after his meeting with chief minister Naveen Patnaik.
VAL’s one million tonne refinery at Lanjigarh feeds alumina to its smelter complex at Jharsuguda in Odisha’s western belt. For more than three months now, the refinery has been suffering due to dearth of bauxite. The company is currently running the refinery plant at a depleted capacity of 60 per cent, banking on bauxite supplied by Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation (GMDC) and also Bharat Aluminium Company (Balco’s) Kawardah mines in Chhattisgarh.
Agarwal admitted the refinery was bleeding as VAL was running the plant on externally sourced bauxite. “We have been unable to pay interest (on loans). The company will be forced to shut down the refinery if there is no bauxite,” he added. Owing to its total dependence on externally sourced bauxite, VAL has hitherto piled losses to the tune of around Rs 3,000 crore. To run the refinery plant at full steam, VAL needs 300,000 tonnes of bauxite every month.
“We have invested Rs 60,000 crore in Odisha on various projects. Around 7,000 people are dependent either directly or indirectly on the refinery plant. The refinery has been put up with the support of local people and the plant has employed 90 per cent locals,” said Agarwal. He said the Odisha chief minister was committed to make available bauxite for our refinery.
Agarwal also stated that Vedanta was still keen to develop its proposed world class university in the state.
“Once the court injunction is removed, we will pursue our university project. We are going to invest $1 billion on the university project. If the university project cannot be set up in Odisha, other states like Karanataka and Rajasthan are keen on having the project”, he said. Agarwal expressed concern over arrears to the tune of Rs 700 crore outstanding on Grid Corporation of Odisha (Gridco), the state bulk power purchaser. Sterlite Industries Ltd, a Vedanta Resources firm, was feeding 25 per cent to the state grid from its 2400 MW independent power plant at Burkhamunda near Jharsuguda.