Anil Agarwal-owned Vedanta has decided to close down its one million tonne alumina refinery at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district due to non-availability of bauxite ore and falling global metal prices.
Vedanta’s chief operating officer KK Dave said with the current market turmoil, “which is not likely to improve soon and in absence of access to bauxite ore from within the state,” the company was forced to start the process of closure. He said the plant is operating with a daily loss of Rs 3 crore. The Niyamgiri hilltop, which Vedanta wanted to mine, contained an estimated 72 million tonnes of bauxite. But the company could not mine due to opposition from Dongaria Kondh tribals residing on the hill slopes.
The Odisha government also showed its helplessness today saying it can’t provide bauxite as no lease was available with its mining PSU Odisha Mining Corporation. State steel and mines minister Prafulla Mallick said OMC has no running bauxite mine. In 2009, OMC had formed South West Bauxite Mining Company, a joint venture with 26 per cent equity of Vedanta for supply of bauxite from deposits in Kalahandi and Rayagada districts to feed the alumina refinery.
Though Vedanta officials did not say when the refinery would be shut down, they indicated that it may be done in a fortnight. The shutdown would affect over 1000 employees. In December 2012, Vedanta had shut down its unit temporarily for over 7 months due to economic non-viability and shortfall in bauxite ore supply. Earlier in August, Vedanta decided to suspend production at the rolling mill at Korba in Chhattisgarh as aluminium prices dipped down.