Bhubaneswar: Vedanta Aluminium Ltd (VAL), India's largest aluminium maker, has resumed its alumina refinery in Odisha after a 10-day hiatus, but faces another shut down in December if it fails to secure more bauxite supplies, a senior company official said.

The 1 million tonne per annum refinery in eastern India was shut since October 12 after it ran out of bauxite, the key raw material to produce alumina. It resumed operations on Monday at a reduced capacity after procuring some supplies.

"We have restarted operations... based on the bauxite we have sourced from Gujarat and Chhattisgarh with which we may be able to run it up to December 5 at reduced capacity of around 60 per cent," VAL President Mukesh Kumar said.

The 10-day disruption may not have an immediate impact on VAL's aluminium output as the company is trying to survive on imports, Kumar said.

An acute shortage of the raw material has forced the company, a unit of billionaire Anil Agarwal-controlled Vedanta Resources, to shut down the refinery temporarily almost two months earlier than envisaged.

The Lanjigarh refinery in Kalahandi district, about 450 km from state capital Bhubaneswar, has been struggling for bauxite since its commissioning in August 2007.

Vedanta wants to extract bauxite from the Niyamgiri Hills located near the refinery, but its clearance is mired in litigation.

VAL has sourced 90,000 tonnes of bauxite from the Gujarat Mineral Development Corp (GMDC), and expects its first shipment of 45,000 tonnes to arrive on Wednesday, Kumar said.

Besides, it has arranged for about 35,000 tonnes of bauxite from its own captive mine of Balco in Chhattisgarh, he said.

The Lanjigarh plant requires 10,000 tonnes of bauxite a day to operate at full capacity of 1 million tonnes a year.

"Daily, we are getting 3,000 tonnes from Balco and with the 90,000 tonnes from Gujarat we will be able to pull on until 5th December."

The Lanjigarh plant is designed for local bauxite, and availability of bauxite from Odisha only can ensure sustainability of the refinery's operation, Kumar said.

India, the world's fifth-biggest bauxite producer, has been limiting the issue of bauxite leases mainly because of local protests over land acquisition.

Kumar said the company is looking to source more bauxite from various sellers, including mines owners and exporters.


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