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Jayanta Mallick

Kolkata, Nov. 30 Aditya Birla Group is keen on Zambian copper mining assets, particularly Luanshya and Baluba, which were once taken over by London-based NRI metal trader Mr Gokul Binani in 1997 from the State-owned Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Ltd (ZCCM) but who after a few years made a messy exit, after which the operating company went into liquidation.

Speaking to Business Line here on Friday, Mr Debu Bhattacharya, Managing Director of Hindalco and the top official in base metal operations, confirmed that. “We are closely looking at the mining assets in Zambia,” he said, and added that an evaluation process was on.

The Luanshya and Baluba mines produced 48,345 tonnes of copper in concentrate and 1,216 tonnes of cobalt in concentrate during the financial year ended March 31, 1997 before privatisation. The assets are now under receivership of Grant Thornton.

Mr Bhattacharya, who is also Vice-Chairman of Novelis Inc, said that the group was looking for opportunities in South America too to pick up copper mining assets. “Not many such assets are available for acquisition worldwide currently,” he said, and indicated that a number of copper mines in Columbia, Peru and Argentina were on the group’s radar.

The group is aggressively attempting to enhance its copper resource ownership in relation to the in-house finished capacity.

“Though we have adequate long-term coverage in bauxite, our current coverage in copper is around 40 per cent, which we now target to increase it to 60 per cent,” he said, without specifying a timeframe. All the group’s applications for fresh bauxite mining rights were at an “advance stage” of processing.

Novelis legacy losses

Mr Bhattacharya said the losses on account of legacy contracts incurred by Novelis Inc before acquisition, could be wiped out fully within a year. Novelis, now part of the Aditya Birla group, had incurred losses of about $120 million associated with its legacy contracts during the first six months of 2006.

In an SEC filing, the US company in August 2006 had admitted that “depending on the fluctuations in metal prices for the remainder of 2006 and other factors, we may continue to incur losses on sale under these contracts”.

Mr Bhattacharya said after the takeover that the financial performance of Novelis, particularly related to costs, has been showing signs of improvement. The accounting year of Novelis has been changed to April-March from January-April to align it with that of the group.

No Re-$ parity risk

He said that neither Hindalco nor Novelis was affected by the sharp increase in rupee against the dollar this year because of two reasons — full cost pass-on to the buyers and absence of cross subsidisation in case of intra group transactions of metal and material.

He felt aluminium was in an upward leg of a long-term cycle and the current cycle could be better than the previous one.

Source: Hindu Business Line

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Last month the Seattle based Boeing Corporation rolled out their 787 Dreamliner with a tag “made out of plastic” and this time around it is the West Bengel State’s Tata Motors Limited turn to roll out their own automobile made out of the same.  

Carbon fiber composites are ruling the world. Carbon fiber or carbon fiber can refer to carbon filament thread, or to felt or woven cloth made from those carbon filaments. By extension, the term is also used informally to mean any composite material made with carbon filament, such as carbon fiber reinforced plastic.

Carbon fibers find many uses because of their strength and light weight. Carbon fiber was invented in the early 1960s at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough, Hampshire (UK). In the US, ORNL researchers are seeking ways to reduce the costs of making lightweight carbon-fiber composites for use in advanced vehicles.

To make a vehicle that gets 80 miles per gallon of gasoline to satisfy one goal of the U.S. Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV), the automobile industry is seeking a lighter structural material. Steel is the material of choice today because of its strength and low cost. But steel is heavy, so the industry is starting to use lighter materials instead.

Fiberglass has long been used extensively in the Chevrolet Corvette and more recently in some body panels of the Saturn car. Audi’s A8 automobile and the hood and engine parts of the Ford F150 pickup are made of aluminum. But now Tata Motors Limited of India is taking the lead; it has announced plans to build a five-seat car that it will bring to market for less than 100,000 rupees (around $2,200).

The company is set to build a $220 million dollar factory the communist state of West Bengal to build the discount offering, with hopes of having it on the market in two years.  The new vehicle could result in up to 10,000 new jobs at the plant and the company’s suppliers.

Tata did not disclose more specifics about the vehicle’s construction, or its name. Officials were similarly mum on production projections, as well export possibilities.

The Zambian Enterprise used to be at the cutting edge at one time with Livingstone Motor Assembliers, Ronhro’s Rover Zambia in Ndola, including Tata Zambia in Lusaka; just what went wrong is the trillion dollar question … thanks a trillion

Brainwave R Mumba, Sr.

CEO & President – Zambian Chronicle

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