Vedanta to sell Tuticorin copper smelting plant

Vedanta of Anil Agarwal has put up for sale its Sterlite copper smelting plant in Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu and has invited potential buyers. The factory has been closed for the past four years (May 2018) after 13 people were killed and 102 injured in a police fire during a protest against the unit’s expansion. The government of Tamil Nadu had closed the factory due to environmental concerns and the company’s efforts to reopen the factory had encountered hurdles. It is likely that Vedanta would set up a new factory in another state.

Vedanta has invited EoI in partnership with Axis Capital and the last day to submit bids is July 4.

“The Tuticorin plant is a national asset, supplying 40% of our national copper demand, and has played an integral role in India’s copper self-sufficiency. In the interest of the land and people of Tamil Nadu, we are exploring options to ensure that the factory and assets are best used to meet the country’s growing demand for copper,” Vedanta said in a statement Monday. .

According to the advertisement seeking EoI, the smelter complex (primary and secondary), sulfuric acid plant, copper refinery, continuous copper ingot plant, phosphoric acid plant, wastewater treatment plant, captive power plant, RO units, oxygen generation unit and residential complex have been put up for sale.

Vedanta said the plant contributes about Rs 2,500 crore to the treasury, 12% of revenue from the port of Tuticorin, 95% market share for sulfuric acid in Tamil Nadu, direct employment for 5,000 people and another 25,000 indirectly through the value chain. The Sterlite Copper plant has an installed capacity of 4,000,000 MTPA of integrated copper smelter and refinery, with an additional 4,000,000 MTPA in expansion.

Vedanta claimed that the factory meets the highest standards of ESG and environmental standards compared to global peers. The plant will play a vital role in meeting growing domestic demand for copper and fulfilling India’s commitment to a green economy, the ad said.

Vedanta had challenged the factory’s closure in the Madras High Court. However, the court declined to reopen it and an appeal against the HC’s order is currently pending in the Supreme Court. Vedanta said it has invested more than Rs 3,000 crore in the factory and has lost Rs 4,000 crore since its closure.

The factory was briefly reopened in 2021 to supply oxygen to medical facilities, when there was an acute shortage of oxygen during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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