- Aluminum industry: Foreign Locations
- Aluminum Industries: Desi Location
- Hindalco/ Birla
- Vedanta Aluminum
- Niyamgiri hills
To understand the reason behind location of aluminum refineries, first we need to understand how aluminum is produced from bauxite?
Phase: bauxite to Alumina
- Aluminum is an abundant mineral in the crust of earth but for mining or commercial scale exploitation, you require significant concentration of bauxite ore at one particular site.
- Bauxite occurs frequently in the tropical areas where limestone rocks are exposed to weathering
- First, Bauxite ore is crushed, washed and mixed with caustic soda to remove impurities.
- Then it is dried in large furnaces to remove moisture content=> you get alumina.
- During this phase, ~50% or more weight loss happens.
- Hence, this process (of converting bauxite to Alumina) is done near the raw material side. Because less weight= less transportation cost.
Phase: alumina to aluminum
- Involves electrolysis.
- The white powder of alumina is dissolved in a bath and electric current is passed through it using carbon electrodes. Result- alumina is converted to aluminum.
- But this stage requires massive amount of electricity
- Therefore, aluminum smelting facilities are set up near sources of cheap electricity, rather than near to raw material or near to final market.
|Canada and Norway||
Cheap electricity =deciding factor for location of Aluminum refinery.
|LEADING Refiners IN THE 70s||LEADING Refiners TODAY|
|Japan, United States and Western Europe||Australia, Canada, Brazil, Middle East, Russia and China.|
|Declined because of rising cost of electricity + pollution related taxes and laws.||Cheap electricity from coal/hydro.|
Largest producer (2012 data)
Still China imports a substantial amount of Aluminum from Indonesia. Why?
- Aluminum is cheaper substitute of Copper.
- used backing plates for flat screen TVs (a lightweight alternative to steel), tablet computers, mobile phones, laptops or as a laminated film used in exterior packaging for batteries;
- Aluminum in green applications such as solar paneling (used in the frame) and wind farms (in submarine cables for off-shore wind farm projects.
Chinese industry involved manufacturing all of above, hence need large-scale supply of aluminum.
- Vedanta is an integrated producer of Aluminum in India with mines, smelters and associated power plants.
- Korba (Chhattisgarh) and Jharsuguda (Odisha)
- Both places have bauxite and coal deposits.
- Vedanta uses that coal for generating thermal electricity in its own captive power plants. Same electricity used for refining alumina to aluminum.
Located in Odisha. Considered sacred by the tribal groups such as the Dongria Kondh, Kutia Kandha etc. Vedanta Resources ltd. wanted to extract Bauxite from here, project worth more than $1.5 billion.
After this Vedanta verdict, Andra also facing crisis because their state government has given bauxite mining projects in Visakhapatnam and East Godavari districts. Local tribal demanding similar ‘environmental referendum’ under FRA.
In the next article, we’ll look at the geographical factors responsible for the location of Copper, Zinc, Lead and Acid industries.
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