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Hindalco targets S American mines

December 01, 2007 13:10 IST
Hindalco Industries, an Aditya Birla group company, is scouting for copper mines in Columbia, Peru and Argentina.

Debu Bhattacharya, managing director, Hindalco Industries, said the company had covered up to 40 per cent of its requirement from captive mines but would like to raise this to 60 per cent.

Bhattacharya said the mines would have to be a strategic fit for the company's requirements. "As of now, we have not found anything of our choice but we are evaluating every mine." Bhattacharya was talking to journalists on the sidelines of the 11th National Conference of National HRD Network in Kolkata.

When asked whether the company was looking at a copper mine in Zambia abandoned by an Indian company, Bhattacharya said, "Yes, we are looking at it."

The company acquired two copper mines in Australia in 2003. The Birla Nifty mine consists of an open-pit mine, heap leach pads and a solvent extraction and electrowinning processing plant, which produces copper cathode.

The Birla Mt Gorton mine has existing reserves for only one year and new reserves are expected as drilling advances ahead of mining.

Aditya Birla Minerals Ltd also has exploration rights in the Patterson province of Western Australia, famed for its rich copper ore deposits.

Bhattacharya said unlike copper, Hindalco was fully covered for its aluminium requirements. The future outlook for aluminium prices was good.

Hindalco operates in the upstream sector, while Novelis, acquired by Hindalco earlier this year for $6 billion, and the two companies are run separately.  Bhattacharya ruled out  cross subsidy between the two companies.

Novelis is a global leader in aluminium rolled products and aluminium can recycling, with a market share of 19 per cent. Hindalco is one of the lowest-cost producer of primary aluminium.

BS Reporter in Kolkata