Vedanta Aluminium,which runs a 1 million tonne alumina refinery in Orissas Kalahandi district,may shut down within a fortnight due to acute shortage of bauxite.
The refinery at Lanjigarh block has been going through an ore supply crisis after the environment ministry in August 2010 withdrew the stage II forest clearance for mining the bauxite-rich Niyamgiri hills.
The ministry order came after the NC Saxena panel appointed by it recommended that mining in Niyamgiri would severely affect the ecology as well the primitive tribal group of Dongaria Kondhs living on the hill slopes.
I have stock hardly for the next 5-7 days. I cant risk running my plant with depleted stock, said Mukesh Kumar,president,Vedanta Aluminium,who is also the chief operating officer of the Lanjigarh refinery.
I have to close it down and then wait for bauxite supplies to resume. The Lanjigarh plant has about 3,000 direct and indirect employees. However,the companys 0.5 million tonne aluminium smelter at Jharsuguda wont be affected much as it would continue to get the alumina from elsewhere. Vedanta officials said after the August 2010 blow,the company managed to run the plant through supplies from Gujarat,Jharkhand,Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.
With Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation forming a join venture with state-run Nalco for a 1 million tonne alumina plant in that state,it has stopped supplying bauxite to Vedanta for the last one and a half months.
The two bauxite mines of Vedantas sister concern Balco in Chhattisgarh have also shut down recently due to expiry of environmental clearances.
The supply from Jharkhand has also dried up due to expiry of environmental clearances and those from Andhra Pradesh also stopped in last couple of weeks after Union tribal affairs minister V Kishore Chandra Deo demanded that mining should stop in scheduled areas of the state.
The companys hopes of expediting the hearing of Orissa governments appeal against the ministry decision has also come a cropper as the special forest bench hearing an appeal by Orissa Mining Corporation,Vedantas JV partner,was dissolved on Tuesday.