Sterlite Copper said it was fully committed to the process of law in resolving the imbroglio at its copper smelting plant in Thoothukudi District of Tamil Nadu.
Data collected and monitored continously on pollution levels and other aspects fully supported Sterlite’s case, said R. Kishore Kumar, director — strategy and business development, Vedanta Resources Plc.
In this context, he pointed out that the green courts and others had legally cleared the operation of Sterlite unit long ago. The company had sought the renewal of licence for the operation of its existing plant much before the expiry date. The State authorities, however, had chosen to seek further information much later, after the expiry of the licence, he added.
To a question, he asserted that “there is no question of closing down the unit.’’ He said the continued shut-down meant a production loss of 1,200 tonnes a day. Given the current supply-demand gap, this would result in an increase in import of copper, which would have attendant consequences for the country’s foreign exchange dynamics, he added.
Almost a third of the country’s demand is serviced by the Sterlite unit. With various global agencies saying India would grow at more than 7% over the next couple years, the copper demand-supply scene would turn a lot tighter, he said.
The expected step-up in power generation would only compound the predicament for the copper industry. Unless, the supply improved with the creation of fresh capacity, the situation would turn tough for copper-using industries, he added. The expansion proposal at Thoothukudi must be read against this backdrop, he said. The stalling of the existing operation, however, added a whole new dimension to the global copper scene. This had already handed out a kind of default advantage to other copper-producing nations, he said.
Conceding that the stalemate had put the brand image of the group, which had presence across the globe, in a bit of a spot, he, nevertheless, pointed out that this could have perception implications for the country as a whole among the global investing community. Sterlite’s facility has been facing a barrage of protests on the ground the facility was polluting the environment.