'India lagging behind in exploiting bauxite reserves'

Our Bureau Visakahapatnam | Updated on November 27, 2014 Published on November 27, 2014

India is lagging behind in exploiting its bauxite reserves and in aluminium production due to certain "misplaced concerns" over ecological issues and due to other factors, according to several experts in the field.

They were speaking here at the inaugural of the three-day international seminar on bauxite mining and aluminium production organised by the International Bauxite, Alumina and Aluminium Society (IBAAS) in association with several other organisations. Over 200 delegates, several from abroad, attended the seminar.

Vedanta Resources CEO Tom Albanese in his key-note address said India was lagging behind in exploiting its bauxite reserves, though the country had quality bauxite ore in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha in the eastern ghats. He blamed it on certain negative propaganda and misplaced concerns over ecological issues. Even though technologies were available for sustained exploitation of the reserves and development of the industry in an eco-friendly fashion, these notions were persisting to the detriment of the growth of the industry. The industry should make sustained efforts to dispel these notions.

He said raw material security was the key factor worrying those seeking to invest in the aluminium sector and steps should be taken to address the concerns.

H. Mahadevan, the president (projects) of Anrak, said that red tapism and "misplaced commotion over red mud and other so-called ecological issues" were impeding the aluminium refinery projects and bauxite mining in the eastern ghats.

He said there would always be "a certain degree of ecological disturbance engendered by any sort of mining, but as long as there is no long-term ecological degradation, the activity should not stopped on that count and it should be carried out withl long-term and sustainable safeguards and precautions."

Describing aluminium as a green metal, he said it had definitively been proven that there would not be any long-term eco degradation in the area under bauxite mining and "in fact usually in the area where bauxite reserves are found there is not much greenery and the groundwater level is also negligible. After mining the greenery improves in the area and groundwater level also increases."

He also said aluminium can be recycled infinitely, and with low energy consumption, and "therefore it will not be lost to the posterity." He said of the ten projects sanctioned in the Eastern Ghats, "only one is fully operational and two are partly operational and the rest are languishing due to various reasons. It is regrettable."

He said it was also the responsibility of the industry to dispel these concerns about ecological issues and enlist the co-operation of the local communities to undertake bauxite minining on a long-term basis and in a sustained manner. He emphasised the need for value-addition and setting up the most modern refineries.

Published on November 27, 2014
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