A worker removes aluminum dross from a furnace at a Sargam Metals Ltd. aluminum recycling facility in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

Nalco Says Supreme Court’s Order Allowing Petcoke Imports Not Enough

The Supreme Court eased its ban on the use of highly polluting petcoke by allowing imports by the aluminium industry.

A two-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Justice MB Lokur allowed the aluminium industry to import 0.5 million metric tonnes of petcoke a year, according to Bloomberg. The court also allowed producers of calcined petcoke to import 1.4 million metric tonnes a year. Meanwhile, the bench gave three weeks to a court-appointed panel for quantifying the requirement for the steel industry. A detailed order is awaited.

State-run National Aluminium Company said that won’t be enough. The import of 0.5 million metric tonnes will not be sufficient, according to TK Chand, chairman and managing director at Nalco. The company will represent on behalf of the Aluminium Association of India seeking an increase in the cap. Calcined petroleum coke is important ingredient in aluminium smelting and higher imports remain paramount for the industry, he said.

In July, the Supreme Court banned the use of petcoke as fuel, barring for a few industries like cement, lime kiln, calcium carbide and gasification. Aluminium and calcined petcoke producers filed a petition seeking imports as the industry uses it as a raw material, not fuel. Calciners like Rain Industries Ltd. And Goa Carbon Ltd. import different grades of petcoke or green petcoke to produce its final product which is sold to the aluminium industry.

Of the 23 calcined producers, six including Rain Industries and Goa Carbon are completely dependent on imports of green coke for their production. With the combined production capacity of 1.35 million MT, they require a total 1.4 million MT a year, according to a report by the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority.

Counterview

Jayanta Roy, senior vice president at ICRA, said the judgment is balanced as it meets the demand by the industry.

The four aluminium manufacturers in the country with a combined production capacity of 4 million tonnes a year require 1.4-1.6 million MT of calcined petcoke, he said. While roughly 1 million MT will be supplied by the domestic calcining industry, the court allowed the industry to import the remaining 0.4-0.6 million MT.

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