India’s Bharat Aluminium Company (Balco) said recently that it intends to increase bauxite ore production in an effort at meeting its raw material shortfalls.
Currently Balco is harvesting two million metric tons per annum from its two allotted mines in Chhattisgarh. However this is not sufficient to meet the aluminium production boost at its Korba facility, which now churns out 570 thousand metric tons per annum.
Balco is currently meeting demand via aluminium powder imports from Australia. However, this means for alleviating Balco’s significant lack of raw materials is expensive.
According to a Balco spokesperson, the company is planning to boost production from its two mines in Chhattisgarh to a combined level of five million metric tons per annum.
“While the production in Sarguja mine would be increased to 2 mtpa, the Kawardha mine would be expanded to 3 mtpa,” said the spokesperson.
In order to do that, Balco will need to obtain permission to increase production. Balco has permission to mine 2 million metric tons per annum combined at the two mines at present. In addition, the mine at Sarguja would need to be re-started, as it has been shuttered for the past four years.
A production boost at the mines would be a worthwhile increase, but it would be only a temporary fix – the mines will last between three and five years. Balco will be seeking more mines to replace the shortfall, possibly including the two bauxite mines with a combined capacity of 20 million metric tons that are scheduled for auction in the near future.
Such a boost would propel Chhattisgarh from the third- to the second-biggest aluminium producing state in India, accounting for thirty-five percent of India’s total.
Balco was founded as a state-owned company (“public-sector undertaking”) in 1965. It began production of aluminium nine years later. The firm was entirely state owned until 2001, when it divested 51% of its stock to Sterlite Industries India Limited. The Indian government continues to hold a 49% stake in the company.