By BS Reporter
Vedanta Aluminium Ltd (VAL) has begun shutting its one million tonne (mt) alumina refinery at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district following acute shortage of bauxite.
VAL had informed the Odisha government last month it would shut the refinery from December 5, if it was not assured of adequate supply of raw material by then.
But with operations becoming increasingly difficult amid stock dwindling to zero, the company has decided to stop the unit temporarily even before the declared deadline.
“We stared shutting the alumina processing plant yesterday and have stopped the power plant this evening,” said Mukesh Kumar, chief operating officer and president. “Unless and until we have bauxite stock for at least 10-15 days, we have to keep the refinery plant closed.”
VAL has already intimated the Kalahandi east electrical division of Western Electricity Supply Company (Wesco) regarding its intention to close its captive generation plant. The company will source 8-10 Mw power from the state grid for idle running of systems of the plant and township.
“We are trying to source bauxite and have already sent a team to Gujarat,” Kumar said.
Vedanta had won the contract for sourcing 90,000 tonnes of bauxite, but the supply of which are likely to commence only after 15 days.
The company is also waiting for the withdrawal of a circular of the ministry of environment and forest's for environmental clearance required at the time of renewal of mining lease, which has been nullified by the Delhi High Court for sourcing of bauxite from Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.
The aluminum major has been running its Lanjigarh refinery at 25-30 per cent capacity for the last 8- 10 days. To run the refinery full steam, VAL needs 300,000 tonnes of bauxite every month.
VAL has not been allotted any mining lease in Odisha and fully depends on externally-sourced bauxite. It had entered into a pact with the state-controlled miner Odisha Mining Corporation for supply from Niyamgiri hills. However, this was red flagged by the environment ministry, which scrapped the stage-II forest clearance of the mining project on August 24, 2010.
Following Niyamgiri debacle, VAL had filed 26 applications with the state government, seeking alternative bauxite deposits. But the state government is yet to take any action on them.