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Aluminium as a metal can revolutionise electric vehicle industry, Auto News, ET Auto

Light weight enables manufacturers to build machines, equipment and vehicles that are fuel and energy-efficient, reducing carbon burden on the environment.

New Delhi: Emphasising aluminium’s edge over other metals, Vedanta Aluminium Chief Executive Officer Rahul Sharma told on Thursday that every kilogram of aluminium used in a car reduces the overall weight by one kg.

He added this translates to an increase in the driving range which means 100 kg saved on any electric vehicle could generate an additional 10-15 per cent increase in range, which will be critical to drive higher EV adoption among consumers.

As countries transit to clean technologies at a fast pace to the pressing need for urgent climate action and sustainable lifestyles, the CEO said the shift to a net zero economy will be metal-intensive, and aluminium has been identified as one of the critical metals that will aid this transition, catering to the emerging demand for clean energy solutions, green technologies and sustainable systems.

“The metal’s high strength-to-weight ratio, corrosion resistance, exceptional design flexibility and infinite recyclability, coupled with the fact that bauxite (ore of aluminium) mining is sustainable and eco-friendly, stand testimony to its environment-friendliness and sustainability,” Sharma said.

Light weight enables manufacturers to build machines, equipment and vehicles that are fuel and energy-efficient, reducing carbon burden on the environment.

Vedanta Aluminium plans to operationalise the entire installed capacity at its aluminium smelters at Jharsuguda in Odisha and BALCO (Korba) in Chhattisgarh within a span of 4-5 years, India’s largest producer of the metal told ANI on Thursday.

Vedanta Aluminium Chief Executive Officer Rahul Sharma said this would see the company adding new product lines and further diversifying its product mix to meet the growing demand in strategic sectors such as defence, aviation, space exploration, electrical, construction and infrastructure, as well as cater to sunrise sectors like high-tech manufacturing, electric mobility, renewable energy, and more.

The company’s strategic focus will be on significantly expanding Restora and value-added product portfolios.

“To meet the demand from our smelters, we are increasing the production capacity of our alumina refinery unit. Alongside this, we are also investing in the digital transformation of our plants and processes, leveraging green technologies, diversifying our energy mix to include renewables, and working towards our vision of net zero carbon operations,” Rahul Sharma said.

Vedanta Aluminium also became India’s first manufacturer to launch green aluminium, branded Restora, to cater to the increasing global demand for low-carbon aluminium, according to the CEO.

Aluminium is a very environmentally-friendly metal. Recycling this material saves 95 per cent of the energy required to produce aluminium from raw materials. This means it plays a key role in human ecology.

With Restora, Vedanta joined the select list of companies across the globe producing green aluminium. So, while the pandemic and associated lockdowns brought their own challenges, strategic and planned interventions helped survive and thrive through the disruptions.

More importantly, the company recently announced plans for the Vedanta Aluminium Park, which will come up near Vedanta’s mega aluminium smelter at Jharsuguda.

The CEO told ANI that it would be a world-class industrial facility where aluminium-based companies in extrusion, electrical, casting, auto ancillaries, packaging, powder, can set up their plants to draw high-quality hot/liquid aluminium on demand to manufacture top-of-the-line aluminium products.

The Park is strategically located, well-connected and offers a plethora of advantages to industries, from raw material to waste processing to value-added services like research and Centre of Excellence (CoE).

The project also comes with significant sustainability benefits, such as considerable energy and fuel savings by eliminating the need for remelting and cross-country logistics. “With quality, excellence and sustainability as its ethos, the Park will boost India’s aluminium-based industries, establishing the country strongly on the global map as the aluminium hub of the world,” Sharma said.

Apart from this, the company has a couple of brownfield projects under various stages of implementation. Rahul Sharma said these include capacity expansion of its alumina refinery at Lanjigarh from 2 to 5 MTPA and its aluminium smelter at BALCO to 1 MTPA, along with the addition of new value-added product lines at our smelters.

While discussing the lines of challenges, CEO Sharma told ANI the domestic aluminium industry is battling headwinds in the form of rising cost of raw materials, an inverted duty structure and burgeoning taxes.

He said the existing duties ranging from 7.5-10 per cent on key inputs such as calcined pet coke and caustic soda lye are prohibitively high and must be rationalised substantially to ensure cost-competitiveness of domestic aluminium production.

On the contrary, the CEO said globally, governments provided duty reliefs and incentives to their aluminium industries to promote domestic value addition and generate employment.

“This has made it difficult for Indian aluminium producers to compete in the global market. Recent geopolitical challenges and muted demand due to the lingering effects of the pandemic have also impacted the LME levels,” the CEO told ANI.

He added that further, due to the absence of mandatory quality standards in India, and tough quality checks in the EU, US and China, India has become a destination for the dumping of foreign aluminium, especially in the form of substandard scrap.

With almost 40 per cent of the domestic market share being lost to foreign scrap, he said it was hurting the overall development of Indian recycling system as well. This situation has been encouraged by the low import duties on scrap at 2.5 per cent currently.

The CEO said it was necessary to impose stringent quality standards and a duty of at least 10 per cent to act as a deterrent for making India a dumping ground of substandard foreign scrap.

On the lines of aluminium’s advantage over other metals, CEO Rahul Sharma said corrosion resistance helps make aluminium products long-lasting, reducing the need for repair and maintenance activities in various forms. Eternal recyclability ensures that aluminium products can be remelted and formed into other products repeatedly, thus saving significant energy and emissions.

“These properties have made aluminium the largest and fastest-growing non-ferrous metal industry in the world today. No wonder the industry has shown maximum promise amongst all metals, growing nearly 20x in the last sixty years (compared to 6-7x for other metals),” he added.

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