June 5, 2017 / 6:41 AM / 3 months ago

NALCO puts Iran project on hold - chairman

Labourers work inside an aluminium smelting factory in Mumbai March 12, 2013.Vivek Prakash/Files

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's National Aluminium Company Ltd (NALCO) (NALU.NS) has put all its overseas projects on hold, including one in Iran, in order to focus on expanding domestic capacity, its chairman said on Monday.

NALCO last year signed an agreement with Iran's mining development body to explore the possibility of building an aluminium smelter.

"Iran's proposal is attractive as long as gas prices are attractive, but not much of an indication in that area has come," Chairman Tapan Kumar Chand told Reuters.

Late last year, the Indian government asked NALCO to re-think its global expansion plans, including Iran, citing the need to be self-sufficient in aluminium production.

NALCO had also looked at setting up a 500,000-tonnes-per-year smelter and an associated power plant in the Middle East.

India's third-largest aluminium producer plans to increase its output by 14 percent to 440,000 tonnes in 2017/18, and expects a 20 percent jump in exports to 120,000 tonnes.

Chand said the company's $849 million refinery in Damanjodi in the eastern state of Odisha is likely to be commissioned by 2021, which will help increase its alumina output by as much as 48 percent to 3.1 million tonnes.

"NALCO is now strengthening its alumina arm by putting up a 1-million-tonne refinery. We have got environment clearances and technology selection is over."

The company has also formed a panel to explore the domestic sale of alumina, Chand said.

Alumina, produced from bauxite ore, is the primary input for making aluminium.

($1 = 64.3425 Indian rupees)

Reporting by Jatindra Dash; Writing by Neha Dasgupta; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Richard Pullin

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