Vedanta promises aluminium revival in West Bengal

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Kolkata (India) - After roping in the Tatas and the Jindals in big ticket projects, West Bengal's Left Front government has roped in London-based Vedanta Resources plc to invest Rs 20,000 crore in an alumina smelter and a power plant.

Vedanta group company Vedanta Aluminium Ltd will set up a smelter with a capacity of 6.5 lakh tonne per annum and a 3000mw captive power plant, putting West Bengal back the global aluminium map.

Vedanta, also the world's third largest zinc producer and the fifth largest refined copper producer, on Wednesday signed a development agreement with West Bengal Industrial Development Corp (WBIDC) in the presence of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

Bhattacharjee said: "West Bengal is trying to regain its past glory of an advanced industrial state. Vendata's initiative will help the state move towards that direction much faster."

Vedanta chairman Anil Agarwal said that India had its first aluminium plant in West Bengal at Bidhanbagh in Asansol producing 30,000 tonne per annum. The company would set up a large aluminium complex there, which "we would actually like to sense as the revival of the first integrated aluminium manufacturing unit in India."

He said that the project would require 1000 acres, of which 270 acres is with the company, which wants to start the construction work soon and have the project completed by 2010-2011.

Although Agarwal did not mention whether the smelter would come up in phases, he said the power plant would come in two phases with 1500mw in each phase.

The first phase of power generation would be mostly for captive consumption, Agarwal said.

He said that the current global consumption of aluminium is 40 million tonne per annum, which is expected to double by 2020. The present Indian market is around 1.2m tonne per annum and is conservatively expected to grow at around 10-12% per annum.

The state's commerce and industries minister, Nirupam Sen, said the government is planning to set up an aluminium park in Asansol and Vedanta's production would help down stream units to come up creating thousands of jobs.