Aluminium Industry is the second most important metallurgical industry in India. Aluminium has gained popularity as a substitute of steel, copper, zinc and leads in a number of industries because it is light metal, resistant to corrosion, a good conductor of heat, malleable and becomes strong when it is mixed with other metals. There are 8 aluminium smelting plants in the country located in Odisha (formerly Orissa) (Nalco and Balco), West Bengal, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. In 2004, India produced over 600 million tons of aluminium. Bauxite, the raw material used in the smelters is a very bulky, dark reddish coloured rock. The flow chart given below shows the process of manufacturing aluminium. Regular supply of electricity and an assured source of raw material at minimum cost are the two prime factors for location of the industry.
Process of Manufacturing in Aluminium Industry
• Bauxite: It is use as raw material
• Alumina: Bauxite crushed and alumina dissolved out > Bulk ore shipped to site of smelter> Calcinated petroleum coke from a refinery > Aluminium refinery: Pitch from a colliery
• Cryolite: A molten metal acts as an electrolyte > Aluminium Smelter> Passage of electricity.
Major Aluminium Producing Plant in India
• The Indian Aluminium Company Ltd. (INDAL), Hirakud: It started production in 1938 as a private company and was converted into a public company in 1944. It is an integrated plant having three units at five different places for the pro-duction of alumina and aluminium sheets. The plants for the extraction of alumina from bauxite are located at Muri (Jharkhand), near the bauxite mines. Its three smelting units are located at Alupuram (Alwaye in Kerala), Hirakud (Orissa), and Belgaum (Karnataka).
• The Aluminium Corporation of India, Jaykaynagar (near Asansol): It started production in 1942. The plant gets bauxite from Ranchi (Jharkhand) and Unchera (M.P.). It has its own coal-mine, a thermal power plant and an alumina plant, a reduction plant, a sheet rolling plant and a utensils producing plant.
• The Hindustan Aluminium Corporation Ltd. (HINDALCO), Renukoot: It was set up at Renukoot, about 160 km south of Mirzapur, in 1958. It obtains bauxite from Lohardaga (Jharkhand and Amarkantak region of Madhya Pradesh), and power from the Rihand Dam.
• The Madras Aluminium Company Ltd. (MALCO), Mettur: It was set up at Mettur near Salem in 1965. It obtains bauxite from the Shevaroy Hills and electricity from the Mettur Hydel Project.
• The Bharat Aluminium Company Ltd. (BALCO), Korba: This is a public sector company which set up its plant at Korba (Bilaspur District, Chhattisgarh) in 1965. It obtains bauxite from the Amarkantak (Shandol District of Madhya Pradesh) and electricity from the Korba Thermal Power Plant.
• The National Aluminium Company Ltd. (NALCO), Koraput: It is the largest aluminium plant of the country, located at Koraput. It obtains bauxite from the bauxite mines at Panchpatmali (District Koraput). It has an installed capacity of 1.6 million tonnes of ingots per year. There is an alumina refinery at Damanjodi (District Koraput) and alumina smelter at Angul. It obtains hydro-electricity from the Angul Power Plant and the port facilities from the Vishakhapatnam for export of alumina and import of caustic soda. The Central Government has disinvested about 45 per cent of NALCO's shares.