NALCO to optimise alumina output to compensate coal shortage

August 2nd, 2008 - 4:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Aug 2 (IANS) National Aluminium Co Ltd (NALCO), India’s second largest aluminium producer, said Saturday that it will optimise the performance of its refinery unit to recover production losses it incurred last week due to shortage of coal. “We will optimise our performance to recover the loss that we incurred due to coal shortage last week,” a senior official of the company told IANS.

The output at the alumina refinery of the company at Damanjodi in Koraput district in the southern region of Orissa, some 500 km from the state capital here, had fallen to almost half last week due to shortage of coal.

The plant gets its coal supply from Mahanadi Coalfield and South Eastern Coalfield, both subsidiaries of Indian public sector coal major Coal India Ltd.

The company had to scale down its plant operation last week due to the shortage, the official said.

Of the four boilers in the plant, only three were operational for most days while for three days in the week only two boilers were in operation, he said.

Coal India was supposed to supply an adequate quantity of coal to enable the unit to run at its full capacity of 4,500 tonnes of alumina per day but there was no supply of any coal for about ten days that triggered the trouble, the official said on condition of anonymity.

The situation was so critical that the company had to use coal from its buffer stock to continue operations.

“Although we normally maintain a buffer stock of 40,000-50,000 tonnes, we consumed most of it last week,” he said.

The plant was getting only 1,000 tonnes of coal per day and that too from other sources against 2,500 tonnes a day that the company requires for its normal operation.

“We purchased some coal from the open market through e-auction paying higher prices to run the unit,” he said.

Coal stocks have improved since Thursday after the coal ministry took steps and instructed Coal India to resolve the problem, he said.

“Now we have received adequate coal,” he said. “We have a stock of more than 10,000 tonnes that we received over the past three days and more than 10,000 tonnes are on their way,” the official said.

“But the main challenge before us now is to recover the production loss the unit incurred over the past week,” he said.

“Had the coal supply been normal the unit could have produced roughly 14,000 tonnes more of alumina, he said.

“Although the exact loss has not yet been calculated, we hope that the plant will resume normal production from Monday. We are taking steps to optimise our performance so that we recover the production loss in the next few months,” he said.

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