The Mega-Smelter in Jharsuguda

Les EdwardsJoin The Conversation

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If you’ve ever driven on a rural road in India, you know it can be harrowing, especially at night. I recently went from Bhubaneswar to Jharsuguda in Odisha State, a distance of about 200 miles. I don’t know what algorithm Google Maps uses for India, but it’s hopelessly inadequate. Despite using an experienced driver who was masterful and fearless in the art of overtaking, the estimated six-hour trip actually took nine!

Things started looking up when I reached Jharsuguda. I attended a one-day Carbon Symposium, which I’ll write about in a later post. I also visited Vedanta Aluminum’s smelter in Jharsuguda and Hindalco’s smelter in Aditya, one of two Hindalco is commissioning in India. They were built with the same design and when fully operational will produce 360,000 tons of primary metal each.

The Vedanta smelting complex is like no other I’ve seen in the world. For such a remote area, it is thoroughly modern and extraordinarily large. It has two aluminum smelters that will have a combined annual production capacity of 1.75m t/yr when Phase II is complete. Power is provided by two large coal-fired stations with a capacity of 1.2GW for the Phase I smelter and 2.4GW for the Phase II smelter.

The Vedanta Aluminum’s smelter in Jharsuguda.

Vedanta has transformed the site dramatically since I was here in 2011. They planted thousands of trees and put a lot of effort into upgrading the appearance and layout. I toured the anode plant and was thoroughly impressed at their progress in operations and performance.

Rain CII supplies CPC to most of the smelters in India, the only region in the world outside China where primary aluminum production continues to grow. If you ever get a chance to visit the Jharsuguda region, I highly recommend it, with one word of advice: take the overnight train instead of a car.

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