The company has also approached Nalco to buy alumina, said Mukesh Kumar, chief operating officer of Orissa projects at Vedanta Aluminium. The company started its 250kt/y smelter in Jharsuguda, Orissa in June 2008 and used alumina sourced from its refinery in nearby Lanjigarh.

Vedanta normally sources bauxite from the Indian states of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh but the company has had to import alumina due to dwindling availability of bauxite.

Kumar said supplies had been hit by a combination of Maoist rebels disrupting transport policies in Gujarat that restricted bauxite shipments and high shipment costs in Maharashtra.

It imported alumina for the first time last November and has so far bought 50kt, Kumar told Reuters, and about 100kt more will be imported by the end of the 2009/10 year in March.

Vedanta wants to mine bauxite from the nearby Niyamgiri Hills in Orissa and has submitted lease applications for nine mines elsewhere in the state, but its clearances are mired in procedural delays and protests by residents.

Government data shows Vedanta produced 136 081t of aluminium in Orissa from April to October. Kumar said it expected aluminium production to be at full capacity by March.