Erratic supply of raw material and inadequate government help are pushing Travancore Titanium Products (TTP) here into a crisis.

The company, with 760 employees on its rolls and an equal number in indirect employment, is now left with very few options to continue operations. The government’s inability to ensure regular ilmenite supply from Chavara in Kollam has forced the company to go for poor-quality supplies from Sri Lanka at a higher cost.

While the ilmenite from Chavara contains 58 per cent to 60 per cent of titanium dioxide, the imported ilmenite has only 48 per cent to 50 per cent and is said to be adulterated. This has added to the loss of the company and affected its production and productivity.

As against the monthly production capacity of 1,350 tonnes to 1,500 tonnes at the company, production has been restricted to 900 tonnes. The unsold stock has been pegged at 1,600 tonnes.

Official sources told The Hindu here that the monthly ilmenite requirement of the company was 3,000 tonnes. Till 2009, the ilmenite stock was regularly replenished by Indian Rare Earths at Chavara in Kollam. But labour union hostilities there had now affected supply. The company’s plea for a separate mining block in Chavara had not elicited a positive government response.

Huge expenses

An acid-neutralisation plant completed at a cost of Rs. 40 crore about two years ago, as part of a pollution abatement scheme, lies idle at the company. The company will have to expend Rs. 2 crore a month on procuring chemicals to run the plant. Work on a Rs. 25-crore copperas (a byproduct) recovery plant has started. A sum of Rs. 15 crore will have to be spent to make it operational. The plant will then generate 300 tonnes of gypsum a day, and the management will have to explore ways to make use of the byproduct in an efficient manner. Gypsum boards and walls, are in vogue in the construction industry, but it has not evolved as a feasible option here. Transporting such large quantities to other locations is unviable.

Unless the government steps in with at least Rs. 50 crore, to compensate the funds the company expended on the pollution control project, and take steps to ensure regular ilmenite supply, the management will have no option but to stop production, sources said.

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