Nalco's over Rs 10,000-crore project in Orissa faces delay

"We want to start construction for the proposed over Rs 10,000 crore project in 2012 and commission it by 2017. But, right now, we are awaiting some environment clearances from the Orissa government. There is a long way to go," Nalco CMD A K Srivastava told PTI in an interview.

Nalco, the country's leading aluminium maker, has earlier this year outlined a Rs 50,000 crore domestic expansion programme, which includes raising its production capacity and foraying into the power sector.

The company has proposed to set up a five lakh tonnes aluminium smelter and 1,250 MW power plant at Brajrajnagar in Orissa near its existing aluminium smelter.

However, a report from Nagpur-based National Environment Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) is awaited, so that the company can take the next step for the project. The Orissa government had commissioned the study to assess the impact of industrialisation in Jharsuguda region of Orissa.

Besides the new venture, the aluminium maker, in its quest to increase its market share, is also expanding its existing facilities at a gross investment of Rs 4,400 crore.
"The company is funding the expansion mostly through internal accruals. We have roughly Rs 4,400 crore as cash reserves," he added.

As part of the project, the company has already started commercial production of aluminium from the expanded 4.6 lakh tonnes aluminium smelter at Jharsuguda. The smelter earlier had the annual production capacity of 3.45 lakh tonnes.

Moreover, the company has also commissioned the 1,200 MW expanded line of its existing captive power plant. The power plant had an annual production capacity of 960 MW.

However, the PSU said it is facing a 15-month delay in launching the expanded 2.1 million tonnes per annum alumina refinery on account of last year's naxal attack at its premises. The Damanjodi-based refinery currently has an annual production capacity of 1.57 million tonnes.

"Now, we think we will be able to commission the refinery in January 2011," Srivastava added. The company aims to cash in on the rising demand of the metal mainly from automobile and infrastructure space.

"Both the demand and price scenario seem to be stable in the current quarter. Aluminium prices are seen in the range of USD 2,300 a tonne while rates of alumina at USD 350 a tonne on the London Metal Exchange," he added.

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