State-owned aluminium major Nalco has firmed up plans to set up a new technology division. The idea is to develop indigenous technologies for making equipment that will cater to the domestic aluminium industry, which is projected to treble the production capacity to 12 million tonne per annum (mtpa) by 2031-32. The Nalco board has already cleared the proposal and has sought the approval of the mines ministry, its nodal ministry. The plan is to initially collaborate with foreign suppliers to develop technology and expertise; and later tying up with domestic fabricators to manufacture equipment that will largely be India-specific. Depending on the demand scenario, a call will be taken on the size of the manufacturing unit.
Nalco proposes to bring the new division that aims at indigenisation of technology and equipment specific to the domestic aluminium sector under the supervision of its projects and technical director. An executive director, with the exclusive charge, will lead a group of 10-15 engineers to be inducted from both within and outside the country.
“We will induct the best of the brains. We will go to the IITs. In addition, we will be making a global advertisement with the aim of roping in some of the best NRI technocrats looking for opportunities back home,” Nalco chairman and managing director TK Chand told FE.
“Unlike the steel sector, Indian aluminium sector has done very little towards indigenisation of technology and equipment. Therefore, the industry has to depend on imports — be it for processing of alumina or for smelters. Nalco has now made a plan to create a design and engineering division, because this is one of the priority areas for the company. We also want to do a ‘Make in India’ in the technology space,” Chand told FE.
Engineers will be studying technologies and engineering available across the world, particularly in Australia and Brazil, where Nalco has already set up technical and technological collaborations, and see how indigenisation can be made with support from Jawaharlal Nehru Aluminium Research Development and other institutes under the mines ministry.
India’s per capita aluminium consumption is abysmally low at 3 kg, compared with the global average of 11 kg. Projections are there that the consumption would go up at a compounded annual growth rate of 7.5% to reach at 10 mtpa by 2031-32.
Largely depending upon foreign imports of technology and equipment, India’s value-added production of aluminium is only 1.47 mtpa now. This is expected to go up to 8 mtpa by 20131-32. Until and unless, new capacity is built up, India will continue to drain its foreign exchange.