[Location Factors] Aluminium-Bauxite Refining, Smelting industries in India & Abroad

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  1. Aluminum industry: Foreign Locations
  2. Aluminum Industries: Desi Location
  3. Hindalco/ Birla
  4. Vedanta Aluminum
  5. 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.

map-bauxite reserves of the world Aluminium industry

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.

Aluminum industry: Foreign Locations

Canada and Norway
  • don’t have any significant quantities of bauxite ore, yet they have many aluminum processing industries in the country. Why?
  • Because both of them have cheap hydroelectric power.
  • used to have aluminum smelters in its domestic soil but with rising cost of electricity, now they’ve shifted their refining to Australia, Indonesia etc. by leasing, long-term supply agreements Merger-acquisition etc.
  • Has largest deposits of Bauxite.
  • Queensland & Victoria: use coal based thermal powerplants.
  • Tasmania: use hydroelectricity
  • Eastern USA: Arkansas, Georgia and Alabama
  • Western USA: Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico states.
  • Declined because various environmental taxes & regulations had increased the cost of production.
  • As Dollar strengthened against Chinese, Australian currency, it became cheaper to import aluminum than produce it using expensive electricity +taxes @USA.

Cheap electricity =deciding factor for location of Aluminum refinery.

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)

Alumina China
Aluminum Australia

Still China imports a substantial amount of Aluminum from Indonesia. Why?

  1. Aluminum is cheaper substitute of Copper.
  2. 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;
  3. 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.

Aluminum Industries: Desi Location

aluminium industry hindalco-renukut

Hindalco/ Birla
FACTOR Renukoot, UP Hirakud, Odisha
  • Lohardaga-Pakhar region @Jharkhand,
  • Korba-Bastar region @Chhattisgarh
  • Odisha itself rich in bauxite reserves, particularly Kalahandi-Koratpur region.
  • Hydro electricity from Rihand Dam on Rihand river in Sonbhadra district, UP.
  • The reservoir behind this dam, known as Govind Ballabh Pant Sagar
  • Hirakud dam on Mahanadi river.
  • + captive coal blocks @ Talabira, approximately 45 km from Hirakud
  • Aluminum Refining required skilled worker.
  • Skilled labour=mobile (compared to uneducated, unskilled labour).
  • Besides, this plant has its own residential colony cum mini township, hospital etc.
  • Hirakud has a township
  • nearest city Sambalpur just 15 kms away.
  • connected to all important industrial regions and ports via rail-road network.
  • Nearest airport ~160 kms in city of Varanasi.
  • It is situated 6 km away from NH-6 connecting Kolkata and Mumbai

Vedanta 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.

Niyamgiri hills

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.

  • The whole “Rahul Gandhi” episode.
  • Union environment ministry rejected environment clearance to Vedanta’s project in the Niyamgiri hills citing serious violation of forest and environment laws
  • Supreme Court said under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), the gram sabhas of this area have the ultimate powers to take a decision on whether the Vedanta group’s can go forward or not.
  • FRA protects a wide range of rights of forest dwellers and STs including the customary rights to use forest land. And gram sabha has the power to decide on protecting forests and natural heritage.

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.

OTHER Aluminium Cos.
BALCO Ratnagiri, Maharashtra
NALCO Koratpur, Odisha
MALCO Mettur, TN

In the next article, we’ll look at the geographical factors responsible for the location of Copper, Zinc, Lead and Acid industries.
Visit Mrunal.org/geography for the Archive of all geography articles published so far.

Indian History Freedom Struggle Pratik Nayak

30 Comments on “[Location Factors] Aluminium-Bauxite Refining, Smelting industries in India & Abroad”

  1. sir, if in states with international borders instability is detrimental for industries , what would be the best way out for the development of that area?

    1. The best way is to promote Agriculture & Tourism and kutir udyog.

      1. umm..but border areas in j&k , rajasthan, kutch are not good for agriculture..and msme r not taking off in areas like west punjab..

  2. thanks a lot sir
    really if u are with us no need to go any coaching class
    u are supeb………
    god bless you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. do somebody can explain me,”what is forward market” plz help

  4. do we need to read and remember each and every chapter of india’s struggle for independence by bipin chandra……….

  5. Mrunal sir, please publish article about Indian culture and arts.

  6. Very interesting article,easy to understand,Thank you.

  7. @ Ravi

    Forward Market is an OTC market where buyer and seller enter into a contract for future delivery of an asset. you can get this definition on internet, just remember below points

    OTC market -> Over-the-counter market – a flooress market- a way of trading out of formal exchanges like NSE, BSE, NYSE.a .brokers/dealers are scattered over different places..so it could simply be a dealers network, where they may finalize the deals over phone/computer network/fax/telex/or any modern day technologies.

    Forward contracts are Customised means terms and conditions(price, amount, date and even place)are fit as per the business and counter-parties. (its standardised form is called future contract).

    Trading instruments could be – currencies (foreign exchange forward), agriculture/ physical commodities , Interest rate ( Forward rate agreement).

  8. Nice work. This is the true model of SEVOTTAM.

  9. dear mrunal,
    can u pls upload some articles on international affairs…exam is close n i am not getting some relevant material….at least suggest me some rerliable source..

    1. sriram ias’ notes if u can get it…

  10. Very nice article. its realy help full for who preparing for UPSC.

  11. Mrunal is the second most popular Gujarati in India after Modi!

    Good work Sir!

  12. Sir,

    Long time NO diplomacy , economy article ? I am bored with same type of article from last 2 months.

    Thank you

  13. Respected Sir,
    With due respect i request you to provide guidance in the preparation fo uppsc lower subordinate exam as your guidance in the preparation of uppsc review officer exam has helped me a lot i am highly obliged as the question were of the same pattern as suggested by you please suggest me.

  14. Dear Mrunal,

    Pls provide link for reference material or mention the name of the books(source) from which you are making notes so that it ll be more helpful to go through first hand information and then study ur notes as synopsis.


  16. @ mrunal..kindly mention the references at the end of your articles..will be very helpful.

  17. sir the wikipedia site states that china is the largest producer of aluminium in the world. can you please clarify?

  18. balco(Aluminium process plant) is in chhattisgarh(korba),eastablished in 1965,
    captive mines located in Mainpat(sarguja)& daldali(kabeerdham)

  19. I am highly impressed after knowing about this SITE. I helps me to prepare for competitive purpose.

  20. Sir,

    Nicely written article with vivid description, makes a pleasure to read.
    But following clarifications needed.
    1. In Alluminium Industries, raw material, you have mentioned KORATPUR in Odisha.. Its actually KORAPUT. Infact you have mentioned 3 times. Hence felt need to clarify.
    2. In fertilizer industry location, you have mentioned BIZAPUR as one of the locations but BIZAPUR is a district in Karnataka. The Location of fertilizer plant is VIJAIPUR in Guna district of Madhya Pradesh. It is along HVJ pipeline. It houses 2 urea manufacturing plants of National Fertilizers Limited

  21. sir i want old ncert ebooks in hindi medieum . plz help me

  22. thanks sir i am really greatful to u ………….u have written it in a simple manner

  23. Sir, could you please please help me in two topics, i need a simple explaination of Jet streams , how they originate, how they effect monsoon? and how they shift with season and types? also please help in explaining Tibet pleatue concept of dynamic theory of monsoon. sir i read in 2-3 books but not clear. please if you can upload.

  24. thank u so much sir

  25. Well consolidated. Superb !!

  26. On the internet it says that China is leading producer of aluminium and Australia is the leading producer of bauxite and alumina. Then how come we have factors for the Chinese Import of aluminium from Australia. I think they just import alumina not aluminium

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