The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Nalco mulls overseas smelting ventures

Calcutta, Sept. 16: The public sector National Aluminium Company (Nalco) plans to set up joint ventures for smelting capacities in power surplus countries like China, West Asia and Qatar. This is for the first time that Nalco is exploring options of setting up smelting capacities overseas.

Nalco sources said the company has already started conducting feasibility studies in those countries for the smelter projects. “The reports are expected to be submitted shortly, on the basis of which the board will take a final decision.”

They said the company is well equipped with technology and project planning, which will help it set up joint ventures abroad.

Further, the company is also looking at the possibility of exporting alumina to the Gulf countries, get it converted to produce aluminium and import the finished product.

“This unique arrangement will enable us to save on power bills. Since gas-based power is cheaper in the Gulf countries, it will cost less to produce aluminium there than in the country,” sources said.

Power, they explained, constitutes a substantial part of the total input cost for aluminium production. Since the cost of power is prohibitive in most states, the company is trying to enter into a business deal known as alumina tolling.

Sources also pointed out that the huge smelting capacities in the Gulf could be tapped for the purpose.

“If everything goes in the right direction we should be able to strike the deals very soon,” they said.

Nalco, which is one of the lowest cost producers of aluminium, has recently increased production capacities of its major products.

The capacity of its bauxite mines has been doubled to 48 lakh tonnes while the alumina refinery’s production has nearly been doubled from 8 lakh tonnes to 15.75 lakh tonnes. The total investment in these two projects stood at Rs 1,664.60 crore.

Similarly, the smelter capacity has been hiked from 2.30 lakh tonnes to 3.45 lakh tonnes while that of the power plant has gone up to 960 MW from 720 MW. The company has invested Rs 2,542 crore for these two projects.

“We are expecting about a 60,000-tonne increase in aluminium production during the current year from the last year’s production of 2.31 lakh tonnes,” they said.

Sources said 240 additional pots will be set up in the smelter which now has 480 pots.

Moreover, the company, which is top on the government’s disinvestment agenda this year, has for the first time, set up rolling a facility to produce sheets which have a steady market both in India and abroad.

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