Bhubaneswar: State-run National Aluminium Co (NALCO) has decided not to pursue its planned aluminium smelter and power plant in South Africa as it could not get coal linkage, but will push a similar project in Iran, a senior company official said.
NALCO -- Asia`s largest integrated aluminium producer -- was exploring possibilities of setting up a half-million tonne aluminium smelter plant and a 1,250-MW power plant in South Africa on an investment of about Rs.17,000 crore (Rs.170 billion / USD 3.68 billion).
"South Africa (project) has been dropped. Since we have not been able to get coal reserves, we are not pursuing it further," NALCO`s finance director BL Bagra told media.
According to him, NALCO had "expected a lot of coals reserves" in that country but found these scattered and not in one block.
The South African government has awarded mining contracts for its coal deposits to local entrepreneurs, Bagra said, adding: "We could not manage to get enough of them who can together transfer coal blocks to NALCO."
For another overseas venture -- a Rs.80-billion (Rs.8,000-crore/USD 1.6-billion) 310,000-tonne smelter and a power plant in Iran, Bagra said NALCO has approached several banks for funding of about $1 billion required for the project.
The pact that the company signed with Iran`s state-run Kerman Development Corp in 2007 for the project has been renewed recently.
"The agreement we had signed with the local partner has been renewed. We have written to several banks. We are waiting for their responses. We are seeking about USD 1 billion funding for the project," he said.
Regarding the status of the proposed aluminium manufacturing project in Indonesia, Bagra said: "We have just received analysis report on the coal availability and we are going to have a look at it."
The plant, conceived to produce 500,000 tonnes of aluminium using about 250 MW each from five power plants each, was expected to commence construction in 2010.
The project has been delayed because NALCO is estimated to require about five million tonnes of coal, which the firm has not managed to finalise yet.
NALCO, headquartered in Orissa capital Bhubaneswar, is a major player in bauxite mining, alumina refining and smelting with additional business interests in power generation and rail and port operations.
Dwelling on other plans, Bagra said NALCO hoped to sign an agreement shortly with the state-owned firm Nuclear Power Corp for setting up a 1,000 MW nuclear power plant.