The decision of the Tamil Nadu government to shut the copper smelter plant in Tuticorin would have serious economic ramifications by pushing India's annual import bill by an estimated $2 billion, said P. Ramnath, CEO, Sterlite Copper.
"The sudden decision of Tamil Nadu government to close down our copper smelter in Tuticorin will have far reaching ramifications for the economy of not only the town and its adjoining villages but also the country," Ramnath said in a statement to IANS.
"While an estimated 30,000 direct and indirect jobs are now on the line, a large number of small to medium enterprises that are dependent on our smelter for copper are also likely to suffer due to supply disruptions. Since Vedanta Sterlite is one of the largest copper producers in the country, manufacturers in sectors ranging from electrical to defence will have to turn to imports and that will push up the nation's annual import bill by an estimated $2 billion based on the current price," he added.
In a second successive blow to Vedanta Ltd, the State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu Ltd (SIPCOT) on Tuesday cancelled in "larger public interest" the land allotted in Thoothukudi for the expansion of Sterlite Copper's smelting plant.
The Vedanta copper smelter serves over 800 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the downstream industry for the critical electrical sector. The bulk of supplies to the electrical sector are to units in northern and western regions.
In its letter to Vedanta, SIPCOT cited the public protests against the plant's expansion on grounds of increased pollution and expressed concerns over pollution caused by the first smelter plant.
The government agency said the price of 342.22 acres deposited will be refunded as per the norms.
On Monday, the government issued orders to close Vedanta's first copper smelter unit, whose capacity is 400,000 tonne per annum.
The Tuticorin facilities include a custom smelter, a refinery, a phosphoric acid plant, sulphuric acid plants and a copper rod plant. In addition, there is a captive power plant located in Tuticorin and a refinery and two copper rod plants operating in Silvassa, western India.
The closure order came after a total of 13 persons were killed in police firing on May 22 and the next day in protests in Thoothukudi against the continued functioning of the unit.
In November 2017, Vedanta said its board approved the expansion of its copper smelter to 800,000 TPA with a capex of $717 million, of which $141 million had already been spent.
The company claimed that after completion, the project will make Thoothukudi as one of the world's largest single-location copper smelting complexes.