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Nalco lines up Rs 4000crore expansion plan

Calcutta, Nov. 9: National Aluminium Company (Nalco), one of the largest aluminium companies in the country, plans to invest around Rs 4000 crore to fund the expansion of its smelter, alumina refinery and power units.

This is the largest investment in the country’s aluminium sector in recent times.

Confirming the move, Nalco chairman-cum-managing director C. Venkataramana said the board has taken a decision on the issue.

“The proposal has already been sent to the government for approval. As soon as we get the clearance, we will start implementing the project,” he said.

The ambitious plan comes amid a sharp increase in domestic demand.

The average growth in the aluminium sector is seen at 7-9 per cent annually, which will push up demand in the short and long terms.

Nalco, which is based in Orissa, currently produces 2.88 lakh tonnes of aluminium and its alumina refinery has a capacity of 15.75 lakh tonnes per annum. The power plant can generate 720 MW. This will be increased to 960 MW in two phases.

The expansion projects will see the company ramp up its smelting capacity to 3.45 lakh tonnes in the first phase and another 1.5 lakh tonnes in the second.

The original capacity of the smelter, which came up in the early 1980s in collaboration with Pechiny of France, was only 2.30 lakh tonnes. The refinery’s capacity will also rise by 25 per cent, at least.

The investment for the project will be garnered mostly from internal accruals and the remaining from debt.

Venkataramana, however, ruled out any investment outside the country, although there were rumours that the company is eyeing China for a production base through a joint venture.

“We are currently busy in consolidating our position in the domestic market which has a tremendous demand. No foreign project we are now looking at,” he said.

The company is also planning to enter into the mining in a bigger way so as to source raw materials from the captive base.

Nalco, in which the government holds around 87 per cent, registered a profit of Rs 520 crore in the year ended 2002-03 on a turnover of Rs 2,739 crore.

According to a senior company official, a 20 per cent growth can be expected in the current financial year.

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