Bauxite Mining will change Economic’s of AP: Vedanta’s Mukesh Kumar
Visakhapatnam: India which is said to have the 5th largest reserves of bauxite in the world is surprisingly importing most of this raw material from other countries. Bauxite is a key raw material used in the production of aluminium.
‘More than 3.3 billion tonnes of bauxite reserves are available in this country and 75% of these reserves are located in the states of AP and Odisha’ says Dr Mukesh Kumar, Group Head-Technology for Sesa Sterlite Limited (A Vedanta company). It is said that with these deposits alone one can create a hub of 8-10MT (million tonne) of aluminium metal in the 2 states.
Stating this industry to have huge potential in terms of employment generation and investment, Dr Kumar says that a total employment (direct & indirect) of more than a million people can be generated while bringing in an investment more than Rs. 1 lakh crores.
Per capita consumption of aluminium in the country is said to be only 1.6kg where as in a developed country it is between 15-20Kg while the world average stands at 8kg.
China which has less bauxite reserves compared to India has increased its aluminium production by 25 MT (million tonne) in the last decade and today is said to produce about half of the world’s capacity.
‘10 years ago China with just 2.3 billion tonnes of reserves was nowhere (in terms of production) while today it produces 50% of the world’s aluminium’.
India with its huge reserves he says should not miss the bus this time of becoming the leading producer aluminium in the world. ‘One must keep in mind that these 3.3 billion tonnes of reserves in India is only where 10-15% exploration has happened while 85% of reserves are still yet to be explored in India! Thus when we have all the raw materials available here why are we importing in huge numbers which in turn causes a significant drain on our foreign exchange’ says an animated Dr Kumar.
Terming the Indian reserves to be a God gift Dr Kumar informs that these deposits were identified in late 1970s and AP and Odisha were thought to be aluminium hubs.
He cites Nalco’s tie up with a French company, Aluminium Pechiney, in the 1980s to have changed the financial state of undivided Koraput in Odisha.
Potential for AP
Andhra Pradesh has the potential for 3-4 big ‘integrated aluminium complexes’ thus creating ample opportunity for employment and massive investments says Dr Kumar. An integrated aluminium complex consists of Bauxite mine, refinery and smelter.
More over caustic soda which is an important raw material in the refinery is manufactured from sea water and with AP having a huge coastline this will be a great fit to have caustic soda plants located here he says.
Dismissing claims of environmental damage caused by bauxite mining he says that bauxite is mostly found on hill tops in the eastern region wherein there is no vegetation or water body at all.
In fact on the contrary he says that bauxite mining helps in removing hazardous material from the hill thus making it less harmful and more environmental friendly. ‘The flora and fauna has improved in areas wherever bauxite mining has been done’. Bauxite is normally found on the top 10meters -15metersof the hill.
As the area anyway has no use due to zero vegetation we should think of the economic potential that is present there and allow bauxite mining and then use the proceeds for social causes like eradicating poverty etc. says Dr Kumar.
He however does admit that the industry has failed in effectively communicating the positive aspects of bauxite mining to the public at large.
‘Eco friendly mining needs to be explained to the society’ he says. Government and industry need to come together to remove myths regarding bauxite mining in the country.
In order to realize the dream of supplying 24×7 power to all there is an imminent need to augment the domestic production of aluminium.
He says that a minimum 2-3 MT of aluminium metal will be required if the mission of supplying electricity to all is to be realised as all conductors are made of aluminium.
In India more than 45% of aluminium is used in power generation thus the need to increase aluminium production.
Talking on Sesa Sterlite he says is the largest producer of aluminium in the country and has already invested more than Rs.60000 crores in the Aluminium business alone.
Around Rs. 15000 crs has been invested in Kalahandi, Orissa where they have put up a 1 MT (million tonne) world class refinery and claims to have some of the best environmental friendly technology in the world. The expansion to increase it to 6 MT is underway which he says will make it the world’s largest refinery.
The company has also invested a sum of Rs. 35000 crore for a 1.75 MT Aluminia smelter in Jharsuguda, Odisha along with a 3600 MW power plant.