Vedanta's bauxite mine expansion plan gets mixed response from locals

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The public hearing held for getting consent from local community for the expansion of bauxite mine of Vedanta-controlled Bharat Aluminium Company (Balco) evoked mixed response.

The proceeding was held on Sunday at Mainpat in Surguja district of Chhattisgarh,  where the London-listed company had proposed to increase bauxite production from 750,000 tonnes per annum to 2.25 million tonne per annum (mtpa). Vedanta has a 51 per cent stake in Balco, while the remaining share belongs to the Government of India.

A mammoth turnout was reported in the hearing. Over 2,000 residents participated, of which, nearly 800 residents shared their views.  

The Balco management said environment, employment and local development were top priorities of the company and assured that it would consider suggestions made by the local residents as. The proceeding, however, received mixed response.

The local representatives, labourers working in the mine and local residents appreciated and supported Balco’s initiative to increase the output in Mainpat. The green activists, however, opposed the expansion plan stating that the company had failed to effectively implement the environment clearance (EC) norms in the mine.

Local legislator Amarjeet Bhagat said he supported the operation of mines as it provided benefits to local residents. Stating that Vedanta-Balco had taken up a good number of development works in the area, Bhagat said the management had been effectively implementing the suggestions given by the people.

The mine would feed the company’s Korba facility that had enhanced its aluminium production to 570,000 mtpa. Reeling under severe raw material crises, the company has been meeting the demand by shipping aluminium powder from Australia. But the process has been a costly affair.

Balco is eyeing to increase bauxite output to 5 mtpa. While it plans to increase the production in Sarguja mine to 2.25 mtpa, the expansion of Kawardha mine was also on card from where company plans to produce 3 mtpa of bauxite.

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