Tapan Kumar Chand will meet with Foreign Ministry officials and the Ambassador of Iran in New Delhi next week to take things forward, he said in his first interview since being appointed as the chairman-cum-managing director of NALCO last week.
               
Chand said he would prefer a local partner who could supply cheap power to run a 1 million tonne per annum smelter in Iran. NALCO would source alumina as raw material for the plant from its refinery in the eastern Indian state of Odisha.
               
NALCO's plans provide further evidence of how business ties are increasing between the two countries.
               
KIOCL, another Indian state-backed company, last month agreed to sell high-grade iron ore pellets to Iran in a deal  potentially worth $200 million annually.
 
India and Iran had maintained a close relationship despite the U.S.-led trade restrictions over Iran's nuclear programme. Last month, Iran and six world powers reached a nuclear deal, clearing the way for an easing of sanctions on Tehran.
               
Chand said multi-year-low prices for aluminium due to an oversupply would not be a deterrent to the plans. Any new plant would take 2-3 years to complete and by then demand could improve given the nature of such cyclical industries, he said.
               
"Generally producers take the opportunity of such downturns to build up their plant capacities, so that as and when demand picks up they are in a position to cater to that," Chand said.
               
A consultant appointed by NALCO has also shortlisted Oman and Indonesia as destinations where it could set up a smelter. Nothing has been finalised, Chand said.

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