Alcoa in talks to produce aluminium in India

Singapore, Oct 30 | Updated: Oct 31 2006, 05:30am hrs
Alcoa Inc, the worlds top aluminium maker, is in talks to start producing aluminium in India despite facing severe problems with infrastructure in Asias third-largest economy.

Alcoa, which has no production currently in India, wants to start supplying one of the fastest-growing emerging markets and is considering a range of options that could include a joint venture or setting up its own production facilities.

We are looking for a project in India and it is a great opportunity although entering the market is not as easy as we thought, Alcoa executive vice-president Helmut Wieser said on Monday. Logistics and transportation possibilities are limited and you have to take this into consideration, he said. Wieser said restricted access to power in India was also a major problem for an energy-intensive industry such as aluminium production.

The US group, whose aluminium products are used in cars, aircraft, drinks cans and kitchen foil, forecast annual consumption to double to 60 million tonne by 2020 due to strong demand from the emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

The company has held talks with officials in the Russian region of Khabarovsk, where other aluminium producers are looking to harness hydroelectric power to produce the metal. Wieser, who is in charge of Alcoas Asia Pacific business, confirmed that talks over the construction of a 340,000 tonne a year aluminium smelter in Russias far east would continue, but gave no time frame. I do not have a date for this. It is at a preliminary stage, he said.

He also said he expected to conclude talks in Vietnam over a mining and refinery joint venture in the central highlands with state-run Vietnam National Coal-Minerals Industries Group, within the next 12 months. Alcoa generates around 10% of its group sales, which hit $26.2 billion last year, from selling aluminium parts to aircraft manufacturers.

Reuters