Post NGT order, Sterlite Copper mulls approaching Tamil Nadu govt for consent to operate Tuticorin plant

New Delhi: Buoyed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order allowing reopening of its Tuticorin plant, Sterilte Copper CEO P Ramnath on Sunday said the company will now approach the Tamil Nadu government for consent to resume operations at the unit.

The NGT on Saturday set aside the Tamil Nadu government order for closure of the copper unit at Tuticorin, which was at the centre of massive protests over alleged pollution, saying it was "non sustainable" and "unjustified".

In May, Vedanta's Sterilte Copper had to close the smelter plant following the state government order. The company had challenged the order in the NGT.

The Sterlite copper smelter plant in Tuticorin. Reuters

The Sterlite copper smelter plant in Tuticorin. Reuters

On his next move after the NGT order, Ramnath told PTI, "We will approach the Tamil Nadu government based on this order next week. We will approach for consent to operate, and immediately, we will ask them for access to the plant because the order also mentions the district collector should give access to the plant."

"Our aim is to make the plant operational as soon as possible," he added.

The company has been abiding with all environmental laws, Ramnath said adding "we have always been saying that we are a compliant company and make sure environmental laws are followed."

The company's 4,00,000 tonne per annum plant met over 30 percent of the of India's copper demand. It also produced sulphuric and phosphoric acids as a by-product which are key raw material for manufacturing of fertiliser.

On the impact of the closure of the plant, Ramnath had earlier said that "due to the shutdown in the last six months... import of the metal (copper) has seen a surge. While premium on copper has gone up by 10-15 per cent, the import of the metal has shot up 2.5 times to nearly 30,000 tonne per month".

Sterlite Copper's plant closure has led to a spike in prices of phosphoric and sulphuric acids, adversely affecting the downstream chemical and fertilisers industry, he had said.

"The plant met 80-90 percent of demand for sulphuric acid in the country and 15 percent of the phosphoric acid demand. The closure of our plant has led to a sharp surge in demand, thereby driving up prices," Ramnath added.

In the last six months, prices of sulphuric acid have shot up from Rs 3,000/tonne to Rs 12,000/tonne, and a tonne of phosphoric acid costs Rs 53,000 as compared to Rs 43,000 a tonne six month earlier, a rise of 23 percent, the CEO said.

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Updated Date: Dec 17, 2018 11:04:53 IST

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