Bhubaneswar: Despite having about 60 per cent of the country’s bauxite reserve, Orissa seems to be unable to add value to the rich mineral deposits although it signed 49 MoUs for setting up steel plants with a proposed investment of Rs. 3 lakh crore.

“Like steel, Orissa can also emerge as the aluminium hub of the country by utilising its rich mineral deposits,” State Industries Secretary Ashok Dalwai said. Sources, however, said that while the world’s largest steel maker Arcelor-Mittal, POSCO and others had already been implementing their projects in the steel sector, no major investor, besides Vedanta, had come forward to set up aluminium or alumina plants in the State. What could be the reason for investors not getting attracted to set up plants in the aluminium sector?

Utkal Alumina Ltd, owned by Birla group, though mooted nearly a decade and a half ago, failed to acquire requisite land for the plant in the face of local opposition.

Though Birla group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, who recently met Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, pleaded for government’s help in expediting the project, there was no significant progress. The UAL, which had proposed to set up a 1.5 MTPA capacity alumina plant at Rayagada district, had already been allotted Baphimali bauxite mine.