Vedanta’s Sterlite copper plant in Tuticorin up for sale, company with Axis Capital invites EoI
Industrialist Anil Agarwal-headed Vedanta Group has put on sale its Sterlite copper smelting plant at Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu after facing a lot of hurdles in reopening the unit and has invited an expression of interest from the potential buyers. The plant got closed in 2018 following the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board’s order over environmental concerns after days-long violent protests by locals accusing serious pollution issues and violations. As many as 13 people were killed in police firing.
The advertisement appeared in newspapers on Monday, Vedanta in conjunction with Axis Capital invited an Expression of Interest (EOI) for the “sale of the state-of-art smelter and refining complex situated at Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu.” The last day to submit the EOI is July 4. According to Vedanta’s spokesperson, the Tuticorin plant is a national asset that has been catering to 40 percent of the national demand for copper and has played an integral role in the country’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 utilized to meet the growing demand of the nation,” the spokesperson said. The advertisement further said that the plant contributes around Rs.2,500 crore to the exchequer, 12 percent of Thoothukudi port’s revenue, and 95 percent of the market share for sulphuric acid in Tamil Nadu, direct employment to 5,000 people and another 25,000 indirectly through the value chain. The plant meets the highest standards of ESG and environment standards compared to global peers, it said.
The unit plays a vital role in meeting the growing domestic demand for copper. The Tamil Nadu government had last year allowed Vedanta’s sealed Sterlite copper plant in Thoothukudi to operate for the production of medical oxygen in view of the depleting oxygen reserves amid the massive spread of the COVID-19 cases. While granting the permission, the State government had asked the Sterlite plant not to be involved in the production of copper or any other material.
The Tamil Nadu government 2018 ordered the State Pollution Control Board to seal and “permanently” close the Vedanta Group’s copper plant in Tuticorin after violent protests that saw 13 people killed in police firing.
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I have visited that plant at Thoothukkudi about 30 years ago. It was a very well maintained plant. As far as my knowledge goes there were no serious environmental issues with that plant, that could not be sorted out quickly. The plant was killed by Politicians for achieving their own hidden agenda. The country is losing because of this ! Sridharan