KOLKATA (miningweekly.com) – State-run National Aluminium Company Limited (Nalco) will bring Pottangi greenfield bauxite mining project into production by 2023 to support raw material supplies for its alumina refinery plant in the eastern Indian state of Odisha.
The three-million-ton-a-year Pottangi mines would be linked for raw material supplies to allow Nalco to install its fifth stream at the alumina refinery at Damajodi. The new stream, entailing an investment of $789-million, would add one-million tons a year of alumina production to the plant's existing template capacity of 2.1-million tons a year.
“Mandatory consultations with representative of locals at Pottangi have been held. A differential global positioning survey of the mine is also complete. We will have public hearing of the project on December 17 and the mining plan has also been approved by Indian Bureau of Mines and we aim to open the mine in 2023,” chairperson and MD T K Chand said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Nalco is also expediting the completion of its captive coal mine, Utkal-D&E, and Chand said that it was in the process of selecting a mine developer and operator. Production was slated for 2020. Further, the aluminium producer approached the federal Coal Ministry seeking new coal blocks Utkal-C and Mandakini-A to ensure adequate fuel supplies to its 1 200 MW captive thermal power plant.
The company estimated that with the higher volume of coal available from its captive coal mine, the cost of production of the metal would come down by at least 25% and add an estimated $84-million to the bottom line.
Access to a larger volume of coal for its captive power plant is crucial for increasing Nalco's profitability of operations considering the company's recent production losses owing to a shortage of coal, closing down of a few units of its thermal power plant and dependency on drawing high cost electricity from the grid.
During October last year, the company had to close down at least three units of 120 MW each at its captive power plant complex as monthly coal supply was 8 000 t short against a monthly requirement of 17 000 t. This forced the aluminium producer to use 190 MW of power from the state grid at higher per unit costs and closed down at least 80 electrolytic pots at its smelting complex at Angul, in Odisha.
At present, Nalco’s captive power plant is entirely dependent on coal supplies from Mahanadi Coalfields Limited, the wholly owned operational subsidiary of State miner, Coal India Limited.