Aluminium is a strategic metal, vital for the growth and progress of any nation. To make the nation self-dependent, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India sowed the seeds of many maiden industries among which Bharat Aluminium Company Limited (BALCO) was one. BALCO was established in 1965 as a Public Sector undertaking in Korba, Chhattisgarh. The company created an aluminium manufacturing complex with a production capacity of 1 lakh tonnes/annum, supported by power generation facility of 270 MW, with the vision of contributing significantly towards development of the country.
The strategic acquisition of BALCO in 2001 by Vedanta, led to the company’s turnaround at an unprecedented scale and BALCO became one of India’s greatest privatisation success stories. Vedanta Limited is one of the world’s leading natural resources conglomerate with operations in India, South Africa, Namibia and Australia. It is a leading producer of Aluminium, Copper, Oil & Gas, Zinc, Lead, Silver, Iron Ore, Steel and Commercial Power. Vedanta contributes 1% towards India’s GDP, as per IFC. Currently, Vedanta Limited has a 51% stake in the company, and the Government of India has a 49% stake.
BALCO is part of Vedanta’s Aluminium Business, which is India’ largest aluminium manufacturer, producing half of India’s aluminium (around 1.97 million tonnes in FY21). Vedanta Aluminium is a leader in value-added aluminium products that find critical applications in core industries, such as aerospace, aviation, automobile & transportation, building & construction, electrification, energy, consumer goods and more. Today, BALCO stands tall as India’s iconic producer of a vital raw material for the country – Aluminium.
The story of success
BALCO, the only aluminium company in Chhattisgarh, has contributed significantly towards the development of the state and the country throughout its 56 years since its inception. As BALCO grows in strength, it is also capitalizing upon India’s demographic dividend to partner in the realization of country’s vision of becoming a USD 5 trillion economy.
BALCO’s initial capacity was approx. 1 lakh tonnes per annum till 2004. Since then, the company has undergone 155% volume expansion to its current capacity of 5.70 lakh tonnes per annum, producing aluminium Ingots, Wire Rods, Rolled Products and Primary Foundry Alloy (PFA). The power generation capacity at BALCO has also reached 2010 MW from 270 MW at the time of disinvestment, and the company continues to be a power supplier to the state.
BALCO’s turnaround has created a 360-degree multiplier effect for the country. BALCO’s stupendous growth story has resulted in the economic progress of Chhattisgarh and the nation at large. It is largely acknowledged that privatisation has the ability to unlock value and realise synergies for businesses in a way that no other means can create. This is proven by many accounts in the past. The magnitude of the turnaround has been such that its impact created ripple effects that went beyond the sphere of business to have an effect on the community. In the last decade alone, BALCO has contributed approx. 10000 crores to the state exchequer and provided employment to 15,000 people directly and indirectly.
Making India self-reliant
BALCO’s aluminium production assist the country’s tread towards self-reliance. The aluminium sector plays a vital role in nation’s economy and is a sector of strategic importance to the country due to its role in energy security, national defence, aerospace, automobile, infrastructure, electricity transmission & distribution, and many other ancillary applications. The metal also has a significant role to play in Union Government’s forward looking and visionary schemes of Make in India, Smart Cities, Power for All et al.
Stride towards excellence
BALCO has adopted state-of-the-art technologies to manufacture a wide range of products, establishing itself firmly as a front-runner among the producers of aluminium.
Many firsts as an Organization
First to produce Alloy Rods for conductors used in power transmission industry
First to roll material for aerospace applications in the country
First to produce largest Billet of diameter – 800 mm, length – 6 MT
First to set up the widest Hot Rolling Mill
First to set up the widest Hot Rolling Mill in India
First to roll material for Aerospace in the Country
BALCO specializes in Hot Rolled Products
BALCO has one of the oldest mills in the world: Technology from Russia, USA and Italy
BALCO is one of the leading wire rod manufacturers in the world. The mills are fully equipped with in-line degassing and filtration systems to ensure standard metal quality. Apart from producing Alloy Rods, EC Rods and Flip Coils. BALCO produces primary aluminium ingots that are re-melted to produce a variety of end products covering the entire spectrum of aluminium applications using the state of art technology. The company also supplies Primary Foundry Alloys to automobile industry.
BALCO is equipped to support critical and emerging industry sectors like electric vehicles, modern construction, packaging, transmission and other ancillary segments. BALCO continuously strives to adopt advanced and updated technologies and processes to maximise efficiency. On the same lines, several digitalization initiatives have been integrated in operational areas. BALCO has adopted image and video analytics, contextual analytics, situational awareness, safety and security risk analysis that is available in real-time with accuracy.
BALCO is also deploying industry-leading digital technologies, creating super alloys to support the country’s emerging applications of aluminium, to make aluminium usage comparable to those of the developed countries in the world. In developed countries, aluminium has over 3,000 applications whereas it is limited to only 300 applications in India. BALCO is dedicated to exploring the enormous scope to enhance the aluminium usage in India, as the country’s per capita aluminium consumption is a meagre 2.5 kg against the world average of 11.7 kg.
Towards the betterment of society
The robustness that BALCO’s financials achieved under Vedanta, opened up a bunch of opportunities for the community in the vicinity. Vedanta’s pursuit of holistic development through the empowerment of its stakeholders triggered an investment of USD 17.63 million in community initiatives alone. It introduced social welfare programs, health facilities and created employment opportunities that reach out to the residents of around 123 villages. The brand has undertaken several development projects under the themes of sustainable livelihood, women empowerment, healthcare, education, afforestation and water conservation benefiting over 1,50,000 people in the region and beyond.
To development tomorrow’s workforce, BALCO is operating three centres of Vedanta Skill School in Korba, Mainpat and Kawardha in Chhattisgarh. These are one-of-a-kind institutes that provide technical education to the rural youth to prepare them for a vocation that allows them to become financially self-reliant. Till date, over 9,000 youth have been benefited from the skill schools.
The BALCO Medical Centre, a 170-bedded tertiary care oncology facility, is the flagship initiative of Vedanta Medical Research Foundation (VMRF) that aims to bring ultra-modern, multi-modality diagnostic and therapeutic facilities within easy reach of India’s population at a reasonable and affordable cost. The Hospital is based out of Naya Raipur, Chhattisgarh, and has emerged as the most sought-after cancer hospital in central India, visited by patients from all geographies, predominantly from Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh.
BALCO has planted over 41 lakh trees in the surrounding regions. To create awareness about the importance of water conservation, the company has implemented rainwater harvesting techniques in the plants and in the township, and installed modern equipment to ensure zero effluent discharge. At its spent mines, the company has undertaken biodiversity conservation efforts to promote regional flora and fauna.
BALCO’s Power Plants have undertaken various innovative and improvement projects for energy conservation. In the year 2020-21 the specific water consumption of 1200 MW and 540 MW power plants was 2.1 and 1.95 cubic metre/MWh respectively. A solar plant of 33 KW has been established to promote renewable energy. The plants have also ensured 100% utilization of ETP discharge water and implemented almost 8000 Quality Circle and Kaizen projects for operational excellence. In its other energy saving endeavours at all the areas of operations, BALCO has also reduced power consumption in its Potline-1, and become the best potline in India and Gulf countries in achieving energy efficiency, thereby also reducing its carbon footprint.
BALCO has been the recipient of various awards and accolades for its environmental conservation efforts. BALCO secured the coveted top spot with the highest Energy Saving Certificates, a testimony of its continuous endeavours towards energy conservation for business and environment sustainability. BALCO has also won the Golden Peacock Award for Energy Efficiency, ‘CII Energy Efficiency Award’, and ‘Golden Peacock Sustainability Award’. The company has also bagged ‘International Green Apple Award’ ‘CII Energy Excellence Award’, ‘Sustainable Business of the year Award’, ‘National Award for Excellence in Energy Management’ and ‘Energy & Environment Global Environment Award’ in recent years.
BALCO currently ranks second in the country based on its current production capacity. With the increase in the capacity through our future expansion, BALCO will join the ‘One Million Tonnes Club’. The proposed expansion capacity will take BALCO to the 7th position in the world at a single location.
The above expansion will contribute about 600 Cr to state exchequer, Direct & Indirect employment to about 2,000 people. This will also empower the communities in and around at Korba City and contribute towards their social & economic upliftment. BALCO expected to touch livelihoods of around 30,000 people through our future projects. The Company has a deep interest to set-up an Aluminium Park to cater to this additional Capacity.
BALCO is also looking forward to working towards challenges of raw material availability (Bauxite & Coal Shortage), High incidence of taxes, duties and cess, high Carbon Tax, Increasing Import of Aluminium and Scrap, declining domestic market share and unorganized domestic recycling industry due to lack of standards faced by the aluminium sector & the reforms required for strengthening the Indian industry.