Anil Agrawal, chairman of London Stock Exchange listed Vedanta Resources, on Thursday met Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik in Bhubaneswar in a view to ending the bauxite crisis in the group’s subsidiary Vedanta Aluminium Limited’s alumina refinery in the state.
After meeting Patnaik, Agrawal told reporters that the plant had to run. He said the state government had promised the company to provide bauxite and they had invested Rs 60,000 crore in the state.
“The chief minister assured us that he would look at it on a priority basis,” Agrawal said, adding that the company did not want to enter into any controversy.
Agrawal said he was very positive about everything as the state government was looking at several alternatives as it was concerned about lack of bauxite for the refinery and alumina for the company’s aluminium smelter in Jharsuguda (about 350 km west of Bhubaneswar).
The on-million-tonne-per-annum alumina refinery in Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district, more than 500 km southwest of Bhubaneswar, had told the Odisha government on September 6 it wanted to temporarily shut down the plant due to lack of bauxite by December 5.
The company’s MoU with the Odisha government in 2004 included supply of 150 million tonnes of bauxite for the refinery. The state government had identified Niyamgiri hill as source of bauxite supply to the extent of 78 million tonnes through state owned Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC).
However, in 2010 the union ministry for environment and forest scrapped forest clearance for mining from Niyamgiri. The OMC has moved to the Supreme Court seeking approval for mining in Niyamgiri.
VAL authorities said since starting operations in 2007, the refinery was sourcing bauxite from Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Gujarat.