Vedanta Aluminium will triple its capacity by 2015 to 2.3 million tonnes to cater for an expected surge in demand in India, its managing director said, even though its inability to source enough alumina at home has forced it to import the raw material.
The company, a unit of London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc, has been importing more than 1 million tonnes of alumina per year because plans to mine bauxite to feed its alumina refinery are on hold while the authorities look at opposition from people in Odisha.
Vedanta Aluminium’s need for alumina, produced by refining bauxite, would nearly triple to 4.5 million tonnes in three years as it adds smelting capacity, managing director Sushil Kumar Roongta told Reuters.
“We’ll have to continue importing alumina till my refinery starts operating at full capacity,” said Roongta, referring to the 1-million-tonne-a-year alumina refinery that has been shut several times due to unavailability of bauxite.
The company is also seeking to buy alumina from state-owned National Aluminium Co Ltd (Nalco), India’s largest alumina exporter, which ships out nearly the same amount as Vedanta Aluminium imports.
Nalco has so far refused to sell alumina at home, saying it was against company policy, and was looking to raise alumina exports by 40% to 1.4 million tonnes in this fiscal year.
Vedanta Aluminium officials say Nalco could earn $40-$50 more per tonne of alumina by supplying to Vedanta.