“It is a genuine and good demand (to set up the council). We will set up the Aluminium Development Council soon,” said Balvinder Kumar, secretary to the ministry of mines.
He was addressing a national seminar — Aluminium: The Strategic Metal - here organised by Aluminium Association of India (AAI).
He said either the mines secretary or the mines minister will head the council and requested the aluminium segment to undertake an independent study on how to adjust various segments associated with the industry in the regulatory framework.
“As India grows, its GDP grows and infrastructure expands, there is natural growth of the aluminium sector even as the per capita aluminium consumption remains low presently.
“There is a tremendous scope for development of the aluminium sector in the country and the scope is unlimited. We have a huge reserve of raw material which is the seventh in the world. Odisha and Andhra Pradesh have plenty of bauxite,” he said.
Though the country produces only 19 per cent of aluminium, its consumption rate is about 25 per cent. The new initiatives being taken up in the country like 100 smart cities and freight corridors will further accelerate the demand for aluminium in the country, he said adding the government has therefore put more thrust on aluminium sector.
The mines secretary, however, said it is a matter of concern that the existing installed capacity for aluminium production was not enough to meet the demand. Besides, many challenges and problems are faced by the aluminium sector.
“We are taking measures to mitigate them. However, we have to take balanced and considerate views ... We are open to all kinds of suggestions to develop the aluminium sector in the country,” Kumar said.
On AAI’s demand of treating aluminium at par with lime stone in regard to railway freight charges, Kumar said, “We will write to the ministry of railways. We support the demands of AAI in this regard.” About recognising Odisha as the capital of aluminium industry in the country, Kumar said, “There is no point in contesting the demand. Odisha should be the capital of aluminium industry.”
On mining activities in the country, Kumar said “MMDR Act has brought certain radical changes in mining sector as there is no first come, first serve policy. Every thing is done in a transparent manner through auction route.”
Kumar informed the gathering that NIT (notice inviting tender) will be issued for auction of 31/32 blocks in two months by August. There will be 7/8 blocks from Odisha and some blocks in Karnataka.
He said the central government had yesterday approved the new exploration policy which will go a long way in facilitating private players in the mining exploration.
Earlier, only Geological Survey of India was doing this exploration. The explorers will also get certain incentives for about 50 years so long as mines are in operation, he said. Kumar pointed out that there has been rise in ore production in the country as many of the problems are being sorted out.
“There has been growth of by 20 per cent in iron ore production in the country and about 70 per cent growth in Odisha in comparison to 2014-15,” Kumar said adding the ministry is looking forward for the further growth of mining activities in the country.