On May 29, Vedanta announced that it received an order from the Tamil Nadu government to close the company’s 4 lakh tonne per annum (ltpa) copper smelter plant in Tuticorin with immediate effect. The project faced protests from the local population opposing the smelter expansion because of environmental concerns, leading to a loss of 13 lives in police firing.
It is ironic that in the hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt, ‘ankh’, the symbol for copper, was believed to represent life. The abrupt decision threatens to stall almost half of the country’s copper output since Vedanta had a 48% share of the 842,961 tonnes of the metal produced in India in 2017-18. This is slated to have a significant impact on the domestic copper market in the medium to long term.
According to International Copper Association (India), Vedanta had a 33% market share in copper bars and rods in fiscal 2017. Tuticorin smelter is one of the two copper smelters in India, with the second one being operated by Hindalco Industries Ltd with an annual production capacity of 5 ltpa. State owned Hindustan Copper (HCL), the only producer with captive mines, also has smelting operations, though it is much smaller than the other two units. Read More
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