Vedanta wants to set up new copper smelter, three years after Tamil Nadu shutdown

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The Vedanta copper plant in India remains shut three years after local residents protested against pollution stemming from the plant’s operation.

That, however, has not fazed the Vedanta Group.

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Vedanta to set up new copper smelter

Vedanta now plans to set up yet another plant in the country. The proposed copper smelter plant will have a capacity of 500,000 tons per year.

copper smelter

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Vedanta Ltd, the subsidiary of Vedanta Resources, has called for expressions of interest from provincial governments in India regarding a new copper smelter unit.

A Vedanta spokesperson told the Business Standard India’s copper requirements will grow. Furthermore, the spokesperson emphasized ample supply of copper is critical for implementation of new-generation technologies.

Three years later

It’s been about three years since Vedanta’s Tamil Nadu smelter was shut down, causing it losses that are already running into millions of dollars.

The government ordered the plant shut in 2018 after protests from locals over the plant’s alleged damage to the environment. One of the protests turned violent. Police fired on the protestors, leading to the death of 13 people.

Meanwhile, India’s federal investigation agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) framed charges on 17 counts, including damage to public property and possession of deadly weapons, against 71 people charged with rioting and arson during the protest, Reuters reported.

The 400,000-ton capacity plant — only one of the total two in India — used to cater to around 40% of India’s total copper requirement. The local government shut down the plant after the province’s pollution control board recommended its shuttering.

As per the details spelled out in the expression of interest, the proposed multimillion dollar project has an investment potential of about US $2 billion (Rs 10,000 crore). The project, it said, would also provide direct and indirect employment to 10,000 people. In addition, it would require around 1,000 acres near a port along with logistics connectivity to handle 5 million tons per annum of material movement.

Vedanta and Make in India

In the past, Vedanta has often expressed its intent in joining the Indian government in its “Make in India” program.

India took up over 90% of Vedanta’s global contributions. Furthermore, exchequer contributions reached US $ 4.7 billion (Rs 34,310 crore) during the 2019-2020 fiscal year. This figure marked about 40% of its consolidated turnover.

Vedanta Resources Ltd is a diversified natural resource company engaged in exploring, extracting and processing minerals like zinc, lead, silver, copper, iron ore & aluminum, and oil and gas. The firm operates in multiple Indian provinces. In addition, it has operations in South Africa, Ireland, Australia, UAE and Namibia.

Will Indian provincial governments take up Vedanta’s latest offer to set up a new copper smelter plant? That is unclear, particularly after the shutdown of the Tamil Nadu plant in 2018.

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