Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Indian aluminum majors expecting LME prices to show uptrend

BL reported that Indian aluminum majors are hopeful that the price of the metal on the London Metal Exchange may rise in the coming weeks as Euro zone leaders gear up to align their positions on centralized control of the euro zone budgets to fire fight the debt crisis.

After being on a steady decline for around the previous 6 months, aluminum prices gained USD 120 per tonne in the last 3 days in the wake of some positive signals from the euro zone.

Mr BL Bagra CMD of NALCO said that “The price of the metal tumbled from USD 2,700 per tonne in mid April to below USD 2,000 in the October to November period. If there is no fresh crisis we see the metal price on the LME being on a recovery phase.”

Mr Bagra however said that globally margins of aluminum producers will remain under pressure, due to the persisting spiral in energy costs. Today, one third of the existing capacity worldwide is operating on losses. On this count, India is better placed as cost of alumina is comparatively lower.

Mr D Bhattacharya MD of Hindalco indicated that the price of the metal on the LME will look better in the coming weeks.

Mr Bhattacharya said that the 3 major Indian aluminum producers Hindalco, Nalco and the London listed Vedanta have lined up ambitious expansion plans, expecting India, together with China, to lead in aluminum production in the next decade. The aluminum growth rate in India is expected to be 11% up to 2016 higher than that of China at 10%.

While Hindalco is doubling its existing capacity with an investment of about USD 10 billion by 2016, Vedanta is executing INR 60,000 crore expansion plan to add about 1.6 million tonne of fresh capacity to its existing 775,000 tonnes. Nalco is setting up a Greenfield unit of 0.5 million tonne capacity at a cost of INR 16,000 crore apart from another INR 6,000 crore to add 1 million tonne of alumina capacity.

Mr SK Roongta MD of Vedanta said that “We have already spent 75% of the CAPEX of INR 60,000 crore. We expect our new smelters to start production next fiscal and reach full capacity in less than 2 years. All the three producers are heavily banking on the Government's nod to allocate coal blocks, which could make aluminum production profitable at the desired level. We will be looking at coal assets once the policy initiative is in place.”

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