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Indal not to shut down smelter at Alupuram

Badal Sanyal

The Indal management, on second thoughts, has decided to set up a captive power plant to ensure comparatively low cost power for the smelter, which has the capacity to produce about 13,000 tonnes of ingot per annum.

KOLKATA, June 5

THE management of Indian Aluminium Company Ltd (Indal), which belongs to the A.V. Birla group, has shelved the idea of shutting down its Alupuram smelter in Kerala.

The company was considering to close down the plant in view of the stiff hike in power tariff by the Kerala State Electricity Board.

Available information suggests that the Indal management, on second thoughts, has decided to set up a captive power plant to ensure comparatively low cost power for the smelter, which has the capacity to produce about 13,000 tonnes of ingot per annum.

Indal is actively considering to put up a coal-based captive thermal power plant, and the entire requirement of coal will be met from domestic as well as imported sources.

The company has, in fact, plans to source coal from its captive mine. A virgin coal block (Talabira-I in Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd ) has already been allotted to the company in this regard.

Meanwhile, Indal has approached the Union Ministry of Coal and Mines for another virgin coal block (preferably Talabira-II) so that it can develop a composite coal mine, thereby enabling it to get adequate supply of coal for its proposed power plant at Alupuram and also for its existing captive power plant at Hirakud.

A massive expansion programme has been prepared for Indal's Hirakud smelter and captive power plant.

The capacity of Hirakud smelter will be doubled from 30,000 tonnes to over 60,000 tonnes per annum by further shifting of "pots'' from its closed smelter at Belgaum in Karnataka. Since smelting is a power consuming activity, the Hirakud smelter will require more quality power.

Hence, the decision to the expand captive power plant at Hirakud.

According to an Indal source, project work on increasing smelter capacity at Hirakud is moving on schedule. Commissioning is expected to start by second quarter of 2002-03 and will be completed by the end of the current fiscal.

The pre-project activities for augmenting the captive power capacity at Hirakud to support the expanded smelter operation have also been initiated, along with development coal mining block.

The Indal source is hopeful of the global economic recovery process to begin from the middle of this year.

The LME price of metal, currently around $1,400 a tonne, is expected to firm up over the second half of 2002 as also the international price of alumina.

The major end-use segments such as transport, automobile and packaging are likely to witness a modest growth in 2002.

With the recovery process beginning to show visible signs, Indal has shown signs of gearing up to seize the emerging opportunities in the domestic and regional export markets, the source pointed out.

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