Sterlite Industries, a leading global producer of copper, is keen to expand the capacity at its plant in Tuticorin. Addressing visiting presspersons here, Ramesh Nair, Chief Operating Officer, said the present capacity of the copper refinery was 2.05 lakh tonnes and that of the rod mill was 90,000 tonnes annually. The total investment on the expansion was placed at Rs. 2,500 crore. The company had so far invested Rs. 500 crore in addressing environmental issues.
Mr. Nair said the expansion scheme was scheduled to be completed by 2013, subject to getting clearances. At present, the existing operations at the Tuticorin plant were normal, he said.
However the implementation of expansion schemes is put on hold at present due to cases on environmental issues pending in the Supreme Court.
The company is implementing a water desalination plant at an investment of Rs. 90 crore.
The Tuticorin plant, with a turnover of Rs. 13,700 crore annually, was contributing around 3.5 per cent to the total gross state domestic product of Tamil Nadu. It was the second largest user of Tuticorin port handling 2.6 million tonnes per annum working out to 13 per cent of total port annual revenue. It was supporting about 50 ancillary industries in and around Tuticorin, Mr. Nair said.
The Tuticorin plant has considerable impact on the Indian copper market holding around 44 per cent market share in the primary copper market while products worth Rs. 6,000 crore were exported during 2009-10. The plant is contributing Rs. 130 crore to the logistics industry of Tuticorin every year.
Sterlite Industries, which started its operations in 1997, has grown to 1,200 tonnes per day capacity from 391 tonnes. It is the largest integrated copper rod producer in Asia. The smelter is the fifth lowest cost producer in the world and the refinery the seventh lowest cost producer as on 2009, Mr. Nair said. The Tuticorin plant is providing direct employment for 3,000 people while 20,000 people were employed indirectly.
The company has one more plant in India at Silvassa. The capacity of the refinery is 1.95 lakh tonnes and the rod mill 1.60 lakh tonnes. The total capacity including the Tuticorin plant is four lakh tonnes of copper and 2.50 lakh tonnes of copper rod.