Oct 26 2008

Rio Tinto plans Orissa Mine and Refinery

INDIA – Unfazed by the global economic slowdown, international mining behemoth Rio Tinto is seeking to develop bauxite mines as a prelude to investing about $2.2 billion for a greenfield alumina refinery and 250.000 tonne smelter plant in India, its top official in the country said.
“We are interested in getting bauxite mines which may enable us to further the process of setting up the alumina refinery and smelter plant,” Rio Tinto’s India Managing Director Nik Senapati said while unfurling his company’s plans in the country. The London-listed company is believed to be the world’s biggest producer of alumina and aluminium.

It is likely to go for a 1.4 million tons of alumina refinery and 250.000 mtpy smelter to produce aluminium in India and is in talks with various companies to share their bauxite resources. Saying that his company has “a long-term commitment for India” Senapati pointed out that the ideal states for scouting bauxite mines are Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. Though, he refused to specify the location of the project, indications are that the company could zero in on Orissa for the same.

As smelters are power-intensive, the company is also planning to secure assured coal supply and that is why it is eyeing joint venture with state-run behemoth Coal India Limited which has floated Expression of Interest for reviving closed underground mines. The company has also recently applied for a new prospecting licence and mining leases for iron ore and diamond in the country.