India to face copper supply shock with Sterlite shutdown

India to face copper supply shock with Sterlite shutdown

India faces a copper supply shock after the Tamil Nadu government ordered billionaire Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Ltd. to shut down a plant permanently, following deadly protests in a move that will slash nationwide output and stoke demand for imports.

The company’s shares tumbled. The Tamil Nadu government directed the southern state’s pollution control board to seal the 400,000 metric-ton-per-year smelter in Tuticorin in the interests of the people, it said on Monday. About 13 people died at the site last week after police opened fire as locals protested against alleged pollution.

The order to shut the smelter will cut India’s production by about half, spurring imports as industrialisation and increased consumption of cars and appliances fan demand. Vedanta had suspended output from the plant in March for maintenance, and the closure was extended as the protests mounted. The shutdown is an “unfortunate development,” and Vedanta will study the order before deciding on a course of action, the company said.

“If the closure is permanent, then what we expected to happen two years down the line will happen with immediate effect,” said Jayanta Roy, senior vice president at ICRA Ltd. In April, the local arm of Moody’s Investors Service had pegged India to flip to becoming a net importer by the next fiscal year. Read More

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