Bhubaneswar: Is Nalco buying time to go for an appeal against Odisha High Court’s order directing it to allow the Vedanta Aluminium to participate in tenders for sale of alumina?

Nalco customers smells something fishy in the aluminium company frequently deferring the tender dates in recent days. Nalco has twice deferred its tender dates for sale of alumina in a fortnight time.

Nalco has floated a spot tender (NIT No.NAL/EXP/T(CA)/S/147 Dt. on 20.03.2019) for sale of 30,000 tonnes of calcined alumina. The tender was to open on  27.03.2019 and close on 30.03.2019. The opening and closing date were then postponed to 03.04.2019 and 05.04.2019. Now again the opening and closing date has been further revised as 10.04.2019 and 12.04.2019.

Customers are wondering whether Nalco is running short of alumina? Whether there is a production disruption?

“ Nalco has never deferred its tender in recent past”, recalls a customer who regularly sources alumina from the Odisha-based aliminium giants.

India Whispers overheard in Nalco corporate office here that there is no problem in production. In fact, alumina production has gone up. “Rather we are in a hurry to clear inventory to close the year 2018-19 at a higher profit”, whispered sources in Nalco.

However, the contention of the sources is not being accepted by the customers.

“If they wanted to end up the year with a higher sale of alumina then why the tender date spilled over April of fiscal 2019-20?”, wondered a representative of an international aluminium manufacturing company that buys alumina regularly from Nalco.

The Odisha High Court, while passing an order on March 26,2019, has directed the Nalco to allow Vedanta’s Jharsuguda smelter plant  to participate in alumina tenders of the Central-sector company.

Nalco, in fact, was not allowing Vedanta to source alumina from it on the ground that Vedanta is a competitor of it.

Currently, raw material starved Vedanta is buying Nalco alumina from high sea to feed its 1.25 million tone per annum (mtpa) aluminium smelter plant with SEZ staturs in Odisha. Vedanta will save upto $20 pler tone towards logistic cost if it directly  buy alumina from Nalco through tender process.

Nalco, which is exporting 1.2 mtpa alumina after meeting the raw material need of its own smelter plant at Angul, has restricted its sale to only overseas companies.  

Nalco sources said that top bosses and market strategists of Nalco are not happy with the court order. ” If Vedanta is to be supported by Nalco for the government of India’s Make-in-India policy, then why Vedanta is exporting the metal instead of encouraging Make-in-India ideas?” they question according to the sources.