First Post, May 29, 2014
Bhubaneswar: Already incurring huge loss due to non-availability of local raw material to feed its alumina refinery project at Lanjigarh, Vedanta Group on Wednesday said the Odisha government has promised to resolve the Bauxite issue soon.
"We have been told the state government is giving top priority to Bauxite supply to the Lanjigarh plant. Chief Minister has assured us the issue will be resolved very soon," Vedanta Chief Anil Agarwal told reporters in Bhubaneswar after meeting Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. The company utilises only 25 percent of the capacity of its refinery at Lanjigarh in the backward Kalahandi district, Agarwal said, adding: "We are importing Bauxite to run the plant and therefore incurring losses." However, he said, the situation would improve once the company was provided local raw material linkage. "The Chief Minister is very positive and told us the matter will be resolved on top priority," Agarwal said, adding that the state government also felt there was already delay in providing local Bauxite to the Lanjigarh plant. Noting that Vedanta had license to produce 17 lakh ton of aluminium and 50 lakh ton of alumina per annum in the state, he said "We will be the biggest contributor to the state exchequer in aluminium sector and the largest employment giver in Odisha." Besides seeking Patnaik's support for getting local raw material, Agarwal also held talks with Chief Secretary JK Mohapatra over the matter. The 1 million ton per annum (MTPA) Lanjigarh refinery had to be shut down for nearly seven months in 2012-13 and was running much below its installed capacity after it reopened in July 2013 due to acute shortage of Bauxite. With the Centre denying permission for Bauxite mining in Niyamgiri Hills after the Supreme Court ordered referendum saw all 12 gram sabhas in the Hills reject the proposal, Vedanta has been pleading with the Odisha government for an alternative site to source raw material to run the plant. Replying a question, Agarwal said "Yes, the CM has indicated about alternative Bauxite mines in the state." On the company's smelter at Jharssuguda, Agarwal said the aluminium plant was also not running with full capacity. "We have been told to utilise full power from our 3,600 MW power plant at Jharsuguda. Earlier, we were supplying power to the state. However, the Chief Minister told us to run the smelter to full capacity and create more jobs," he said. Agarwal said the Chief Minister also asked the company to set up downstream industries in aluminium sector. "There is huge potential to set up at least 100 such units by different people. They can manufacture auto-parts, aircraft parts and others in the downstream units," Agarwal said. Vedanta Group also claimed it was the only company which has made huge investment in Odisha without waiting for provisions from the state government while others demand facilities before investing.