We have continued to focus on extending our existing resources and growing our assets organically, by investing in projects that expand our capacity and increase our production volumes.
During the year, our aluminium smelters operated at more than the rated capacity and volume increased significantly over FY 2011–12. We had record production of lead and silver at our Zinc India subsidiary with copper cathode production improving in Sterlite as well as at Konkola Copper Mines (‘KCM’). Sterlite Energy operated at a higher plant load factor (‘PLF’) increasing commercial power generation, although this was constrained by power transmission capacity. This higher generation of commercial power was also supported by an increase in green energy powered from our wind power plants.
Whilst our primary focus is on growing our existing assets, we pursue selective acquisitions that are value-enhancing for our shareholders. We seek large proven, assets with the potential for growth and/or cost improvement, where we can leverage our skills and experience. These could include new geographies and commodities that meet our investment criteria. Last year, we acquired a controlling interest in Cairn India, the largest private oil producer in India. In 2012, Cairn India contributed 49% of the Group’s EBITDA. This diversification has helped the Group improve the profitability despite adverse commodity prices in copper, aluminium, zinc, lead and silver.
During the year, we acquired the outstanding 49% stake in the brown field and green field iron ore assets in Liberia in Western Africa for a cost of US$33.5 million. West Africa is an emerging hub for iron ore. The region has approximately 34 billion tonnes of reserves and resources, with the potential to become a 100 million tonnes per annum iron ore exporting region.