Piyush Goyal, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Mines, Coal, Power and New & Renewable Energy, has advised National Aluminium Company Ltd (NALCO to raise its aluminium smelter capacity to at least 20 lakh tonne to ensure more of the mineral is utilised within the country instead of being exported.
“I have asked NALCO to prepare a prospective future plan to raise capacity to 20 lakh tonne from the present 4.6 lakh tonne…NALCO has been exporting alumina for several years while the country keeps importing the mineral. We must utilise the mineral within the country to overcome such a scenario,” said the minister on the sidelines of the Confederation of Indian Industry’s Sustainability Summit.
“They had a full-fledged expansion plan which was formed some years ago but it never took off and the reason they gave was electricity is too costly in the country. Instead, they went for a tie-up with Iran to export alumina there and produce aluminium in Iran as power is cheaper there,” Goyal added.
The Minister also said that he will soon start a public discourse to put an end to alumina exports. For making aluminium metal, bauxite which is the raw mineral is first refined to alumina which is also known as aluminium oxide which gets rid of impurities. Alumina is then fed to aluminium smelters to make the metal.
While NALCO’s aluminium smelter capacity is only 4.6 lakh tonne, it makes around 20 lakh tonne of alumina per year.