Odisha Sun Times Business Bureau
Bhubaneswar, June 13:
With Larsen & Toubro (L&T) agreeing to set up a three million tonne aluminum refinery in two phases of 1.5 million tonne each at Rayagada, the Odisha government today recommended to the Centre the grant of Mining Lease (ML) for Sijurumali and Kuturumali bauxite mines to the company putting an end to the long-drawn speculation on the issue.
L&T will go for construction of the refinery with a rated capacity of 1.5 million tonne in the first phase at an investment of around Rs 12,000 crore, sources close to the development said.
The state government has, however, put a condition that the company cannot use bauxite mined from these two mines elsewhere. What in effect means is that despite having a joint venture with Vedanta, L&T cannot allow Vedanta to use bauxite extracted from the two mines.
The state government’s condition has dashed the hopes of Vedanta using bauxite from these two mines. A few days back, Vedanta chief Anil Agrawal and L&T Group executive chairman AM Naik had met Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in this connection.
“We have recommended grant of mining lease for these two mines. We have asked the company for value addition by setting up a three million tonne aluminum refinery. We have asked the company to at least set up a refinery unit of at least 1.5 million tonne within three years and the remaining 1.5 million tonne unit later in case it doesn’t have the capacity to go for three million tonne in one go. The company has been further asked to set up a skill upgrade institute for the locals,” said Prafulla Mallick Minister Steel & Mines briefing the media.
L&T was granted Prospecting License (PL) for Sijurumali and Kuturumali bauxite mines in 1992-93. But since the company didn’t have end-use plant the state government had refused to grant Mining Lease (ML) to it.
Following L&T expressing its willingness to set up a plant in the state, the government has now recommended to the Centre grant of ML in its favour.
Legal experts have opined that since L&T has the PL for the two mines, there is no obstacle in it getting ML for the mines under the amended MMDR Act.
Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly Narasingha Mishra had earlier opposed the state government’s proposal to grant ML to L&T for the said two mines. However, official sources said everything has been done in conformity with the law.