Metal melt­down

The global crash in alu­minium prices, trig­gered by over­pro­duc­tion in China, is forc­ing In­dian com­pa­nies to shut down oper­a­tions. The so­lu­tion may lie in re­cy­cling the metal

Down to Earth - - ASSAM FLOOD - ANU­PAM CHAKRAVARTTY |

O9, the Bharat N SEPTEM­BER Alu­minium Com­pany Ltd (balco) in­formed the labour com­mis­sioner that it had started shut­ting down its rolling plant at Korba in Ch­hat­tis­garh as alu­minium prices had crashed in the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket and there was short­age of baux­ite ore, the raw ma­te­rial for alu­minium. The de­ci­sion trig­gered protests among plant work­ers, who have moved the labour court against the clo­sure. balco is co-owned by Ster­lite In­dus­tries In­dia Ltd, a sub­sidiary of Vedanta Re­sources, and the Union gov­ern­ment. Sources in the com­pany say Vedanta is also plan­ning to shut down its Lan­ji­garh alu­minium re­fin­ery plant in Odisha by De­cem­ber.Clo­sure of the plants would ren­der 1,750 peo­ple job­less.

The lo­cal peo­ple, who had parted with their land to set up Vedanta’s re­fin­ery, held a protest on Septem­ber 3 against the shut­ting down of the re­fin­ery.They also wrote a let­ter to the state gov­ern­ment and Vedanta ask­ing them not to shut oper­a­tions. Ac­cord­ing to Uday Ku­mar, pres­i­dent of Vedanta Land- Losers As­so­ci­a­tion,the plant had given jobs to al­most 1,000 peo­ple who had lost their land to the com­pany.

The sit­u­a­tion is no dif­fer­ent in other alu­minium re­fin­ery plants in the coun­try.While Hin­dalco In­dus­tries Ltd of Aditya Birla Group is in­cur­ring heavy losses, the Union gov­ern­ment has de­ferred its dis­in­vest­ment plan for two plants of the Na­tional Alu­minium Com­pany Ltd (nalco) till next year.Of­fi­cials of the Union min­istry of mines (mom) told DownTo Earth that the de­ci­sion was taken af­ter nalco’s share prices fell sharply at the Bom­bay Stock Ex­change on Septem­ber 7.At the cur­rent mar­ket rate,the 12.5 per cent stake sale in nalco would fetch

865 crore,roughly half of what it would have fetched in Septem­ber 2014,they say.

This per­ilous sit­u­a­tion, says the Alu­minium As­so­ci­a­tion of In­dia (aai), has arisen be­cause alu­minium prices have hit a six-year low due to over­pro­duc­tion in China. Ac­cord­ing to Gold­man Sachs’re­search team, alu­minium prices have dropped by 40 per cent from US $2,662 in April 2011 to

The sit­u­a­tion is bound to worsen as China starts ex­port­ing three

mil­lion tonnes of alu­minium stashed in its ware­houses at an

even cheaper rate

COUR­TESY: BALCO

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