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Tisco upbeat on ferro alloys unit

Calcutta, March 21: The ferro alloys division of Tata Iron and Steel Company (Tisco) is set to achieve its maiden profit during the current financial year after 10 years of operation.

Confirming this, Tisco executive-in-charge, Ferro Alloys and Minerals, P Roy said for the first time the division will record 100 per cent capacity utilisation in its plant at Bamnipal in Orissa this year.

“Both the export and domestic markets have been better than the past and the growth in sales is quite reasonable. We hope the situation will sustain,” Roy said. The division is likely to cross Rs 200-crore mark in turnover this year.

The Bamnipal plant, which has a capacity of producing 50,000 tonnes of ferro chrome, was acquired by Tisco from the state-owned Orissa Mining Corporation in 1992 as a sick company at an investment of Rs 156 crore. Roy said it is a matter of pride for Tisco that the plant has been turned around within a span of 10 years and that too, in the face of heavy cost of power in Orissa.

“Power takes away about 50 per cent of the total cost of production in a ferro chrome plant. Although the quality of raw materials in Orissa is very good, we are unable to be globally competitive only because of heavy power cost,” Roy said.

He has further pointed out that while per unit cost of power is 48 paise in South Africa, it is now Rs 2.14 in Orissa. “This huge difference is causing a tremendous difficulty for us not only in the international markets but also in the domestic market. We have asked a level playing field from the government so that all ferro chrome producers can become competitive.”

The total power requirement in Bamnipal plant is around 32 MW. Roy said if the per unit cost of power becomes Rs 1.50, the company will be able to take on any global competition.

Tisco is also in the process of setting up a joint venture in South Africa to produce ferro chrome. The company the environmental clearance for the Rs 250-crore project in the next six months, Roy said.

As soon as the environment clearance is obtained, the work on the 120,000-tonne project, which will need 18 months to be completed, will commence, he added.

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