KOLKATA – India’s National Aluminium Company Limited (Nalco) would be securing access to a new 65-million tonne bauxite reserve to expand its alumina refinery from 2.1-million tonnes a year to 3.1-million tonnes a year by 2016.

According to a company official, the bauxite reserves at Pottangi, in the East Indian province of Odisha, where the country’s largest integrated aluminium producer also has its operating units, would be sufficient to feed the expanded alumina refinery until 2036.

The refinery expansion and mine development would require an investment of around $800-million and Nalco was currently examining a detailed project report before the company board made a final call on the project, the official said.

The provincial government of Odisha had already accorded Nalco an in-principle approval for a mining lease.

The aluminium producer currently operates the 310-million-tonne Panchpatmali bauxite reserve in Odisha, producing 4.8-million tonnes a year to feed its alumina refinery and 0.46-million tonnes a year to feed its aluminium smelter.

The brownfield expansion in Odisha would be in addition to Nalco’s stuttering plans to invest $2-billion in the construction of a greenfield alumina and smelter plant in the western Indian province of Gujarat in a joint venture with Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation Limited (GMDC).

The project entailed a one-million-tonne alumina refinery and a half-million-tonne aluminium smelter, fed by bauxite to be supplied by GMDC from the latter’s mines in the Kutch district.

However, the project has hit a roadblock, with Nalco insisting that its partner, GMDC, arrange for supply of cheap power to the smelters. Without assurance of cheap power, Nalco preferred to invest in downstream aluminium value-added projects while GMDC was standing firm on upstream facilities, including the alumina refinery and the aluminum smelter.

Courtesy: miningweekly.com

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