Vedanta gives up on its Tuticorin copper plant; plans new Rs 10,000-crore copper unit

With its 400,000-tonnes per annum copper smelter plant in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, closed since May 2018 over pollution concerns and the Supreme Court dismissing its plea to reopen it, Vedanta is now planning to set up a new 500,000 tonnes a year plant. The company has invited expressions of interest from coastal states wishing to partner it in this project.

Vedanta said that the proposed plant would require around 1,000 acres of land in proximity to a port along with logistics connectivity with conveyor or corridor of rail and road to handle 5 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) material movement on both in-bound and out-bound side. 

The company said that the project would entail an investment of around Rs 10,000 crore and provide direct and indirect employment to 10,000 people.

With the closure of the Tuticorin plant, the country’s copper production has come down by almost half, turning it into net importer. In the first two years of the closure of the plant, refined copper imports rose more than three times to 151,964 tonnes in FY20, while exports slumped 90% to 36,959 tonnes, according to mines ministry data.

The decision of the Tamil Nadu government in May 2018 to order closure of the Tuticorin plant over allegations of polluting the environment in the district was upheld by the Madras High Court. Though the National Green Tribunal had in December 15, 2018, allowed Vedanta to reopen the plant, the Supreme Court had set aside its order stating that the green tribunal did not have jurisdiction to entertain an appeal against the TN government’s decision.

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