Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Sep 9:
Vedanta chief Anil Agarwal today said the capacity of the company’s refinery at Lanjigarh in Odisha’s Kalahandi district would be expanded from 1 million ton per annum (MTPA) to 2 MTPA in the next one year.
“The capacity of the refinery would be expanded to 2 MTPA in the next one year, which would require an additional 20 lakh tonnes of ore. The plant would ultimately have a capacity of 6 MTPA,” Agarwal told media persons after meeting Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at the state secretariat here today.
The Vedanta chairman said the Odisha government had assured him of a lasting solution to the raw material problem faced by the company.
“We are talking to Larsen & Toubro, which has been allocated three bauxite mines, to tide over our raw material problem. After the tribals of the area said ‘no’ to mining in the Niyamgiri hills, the company has no other option except to get ore from the three mines of L&T to run the plants in the state,” he said.
The government, Agarwal said, had assured the company to expedite the grant of lease for the two bauxite reserves at Sijimali and Kutrumali mines in south Odisha’s Rayagada and Kalahandi districts respectively for which L&T had been given prospecting licence way back in 1990.
Earlier, Vedanta had entered into a joint venture with L&T, which held prospecting licence for the Sijimali and Kutrumali mines, which together have an estimated bauxite deposit of about 300 million tonnes.
But two years later after the expiry of PL, the state government denied mining lease (ML) to L&T since it had no end-use plant. In 2005, L&T, through a joint venture with Dubai Aluminium (Dubal), had proposed a Rs 30,000 crore alumina refinery of 3 MTPA capacity at Rayagada, 1.5 MTPA smelter project and a captive power plant (CPP). Seven years later in 2012, when Dubal walked out of the special purpose vehicle (SPV), Vedanta Aluminium Ltd. bought 24% stake in the project.
“Besides, we have also approached the Odisha government to give us two laterite mines, which would partially take care of our raw material needs. The state government has responded postively to our request,” said Agarwal, who also met chief secretary GC Pati.
Lamenting the non-availability of bauxite to feed the plant at Lanjigarh, he said, “It is unfortunate that we are importing bauxite from other countries to feed our plants while India has the largest deposit of bauxite.”
As a result of the acute shortage of ore, the company’s smelter plant at Jharsugda is operating at only 25% of its capacity, the Veadnta boss said adding efforts were being made to gradually increase capacity utilisation.
Asked about reports that the gram sabha conducted recently for the expansion of the Lanjigarh refinery had not been held properly, he said; “As per our information, the gram sabha was held fairly and transparently.”
Questioned about some activists having sent video footage allegedly showing that the gram sabha was not held in the prescribed manner, he said; “I have no idea.”