Maoist attack makes NALCO miss bauxite target

June 20th, 2009 - 2:39 pm ICT by IANS  

By Jatindra Dash
Bhubaneswar, June 20 (IANS) Bauxite production by the state-owned National Aluminium Co (NALCO) has fallen short of its target by 20 percent because of a Maoist attack on its mines two months ago.

NALCO’s mines at Damanjodi in Orissa’s Koraput district had to be shut down April 12 after Maoists in a late night attack killed 10 Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel.

“Bauxite production fell by at least 100,000 tonnes after the attack, that is, about 20 percent less than the target,” company chairman C.R. Pradhan told IANS in an interview.

The mine has a capacity to produce about five million tonnes of bauxite a year.

“Workers continue to work in fear. They are often reluctant to work the night shift because of Maoists in neighbouring areas,” Pradhan said.

But the NALCO chairman says there is good news too: the aluminium sector, which witnessed the severest slowdown in three decades since last year, is seeing signs of recovery.

This has prompted India’s largest integrated manufacturer and exporter of alumina to revise the prices of its products.

“We have decreased the discount amount by Rs.5,000-Rs.6,000 depending on the products,” Pradhan said.

“The market situation right now is encouraging, prices are going up. We are happy.”

Yet, it would be some time before the effects of the slowdown is overcome. Its fourth quarter net profit last fiscal dropped to Rs.83 crore on a turnover of Rs.1,233 crore, from the Rs.416 crore netted in 2007-08 on a turnover of Rs.1,560 crore.

This also impacted its financial figures for the entire 2008-09, with its net profit dipping to Rs.1,272 crore from Rs.1,632 crore in the previous year.

Attributing the sharp fall in profit to “abnormally low prices” in the December-March quarter, higher expenditure on coal and fuel oil and pay revision, Pradhan said: “I cannot predict the future performance now. But naturally we would like to have maximum turnover and profits.”

NALCO, he said, has also requested the government to impose safeguard duties on imported primary aluminium products. “We want the duty to be 10 to 15 percent at least.”

(Jatindra dash can be contacted at jatindra.d@ians.in)

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