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HomeNews ReportsSterlite Copper up for sale: Vedanta Group seeks EoI for its Thoothukudi Copper Plant...

Sterlite Copper up for sale: Vedanta Group seeks EoI for its Thoothukudi Copper Plant that has been closed by the TN govt since 2018

The company announced, “Vedanta, in conjunction with Axis Capital, invites expressions of interest for the sale of its copper plant along with its other units." The company has sought EoI by July 4, 2022.

On June 20, Vedanta Group published an advertisement in newspapers seeking expressions of interest for the sale of its Thoothukudi-based copper plant that has been closed since 2018 following the protests from the locals and activists. Sterlite Copper faced an array of protests leading to police firing that resulted in the death of 13 people. The plant has been closed since 2018, following the Tamil Nadu government’s order.

In its ad on Monday, the company said, “Vedanta, in conjunction with Axis Capital, invites expressions of interest for the sale of its copper plant along with its other units, which includes the smelter complex (primary and secondary), sulphuric acid plant, copper refinery, continuous copper rod plant, phosphoric acid plant, effluent treatment plant, captive power plants, reverse osmosis units, oxygen generation unit and residential complex.” The company has sought EoI by July 4, 2022.

Ad by Vedanta Group seeking EoI for Sterlite Copper in Tamil Nadu. Source: MoneyControl

The plant has an installed capacity of 4,00,000 Metric Tonnes Per Annum (MTPA), and there was another 4,00,000 MTPA under expansion. Before closing down, the plant was providing direct employment to over 5,000 people, and another 25,000 were indirectly employed because of the plant. It fulfilled 40% of the copper demand in India. 12% of revenue of the Thoothukudi port was coming from the plant, along with a 96% market share for sulphuric acid in Tamil Nadu.

Since its closure, the officials of Sterlite Copper had been working out a plan to reopen it. The case is currently under review by the Supreme Court. Vedanta Group officials had said earlier that selling the plant or moving it away from Tamil Nadu was not on the cards, and the recent step has come as a surprise for many.

In a statement, the company’s spokesperson said, “The Tuticorin plant is a national asset which has been catering to 40% of our national demand for copper and has played an integral role towards India’s self-sufficiency in copper. In the best interest of the country and the people of Tamil Nadu, we are exploring options to make sure that the plant and the assets are best utilised to meet the growing copper demand of the nation.”

Reports suggest that the plant has been incurring over Rs 5 crore loss per day since its closure. It would require Rs 800 to Rs 1,000 crore to revamp the plant if it gets permission to reopen.

The closure of the plant

The locals and environmental activists had been protesting against the plant for a long. In March 2018 massive protests started against the plant. The Police had opened fire at the protesters outside the plant leading to the death of 13 people. The protesters had claimed the plant was causing pollution in the area. Following the closure, Vedanta moved to National Green Tribunal (NGT) to get permission to reopen the plant. NGT granted permission, but the Tamil Nadu government moved to Supreme Court. The apex court stayed the NGT order and allowed Vedanta to approach High Court for reopening of the plant. The High Court refused to allow Vedanta to reopen the plant, after which the company moved to Supreme Court, where the case is pending.

Notably, in 2021, Vedanta Group got permission to reopen the plant to provide medical oxygen during the Covid pandemic. TN government had appealed to the apex court that the plant should provide oxygen only to the state but the court rejected it. It operated for three months and then the premises were again shut once the second wave was subsidised. In December 2021, there were reports that the locals had claimed they were cheated in the name of the protests and wanted it to reopen.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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