Mining News

Vedanta selling copper smelter halted for four years

Shares in Vedanta Ltd. (NSE: VEDL) fell more than 12% on Monday after the oil-to-metals Indian group put up for sale a copper smelter complex shut for four years following the death of 13 protesters in an alleged police firing.

The Mumbai-based company, India’s largest miner, said potential buyers had until July 4 to submit expressions of interest.

Vedanta was ordered to shut its 400,000 tonnes per annum copper smelter in India’s southern Tamil Nadu state in May 2018. The decision followed week of violent protests against the company’s plans to expand the plant’s capacity, which locals blamed of polluting their air and water.

The round of protests that ended with the dead of 13 people was condemned by a working group of United Nations’ human rights experts for the “excessive and disproportionate use of lethal force by police”.

Vedanta, controlled by billionaire Anil Agarwal, has fought multiple court battles to restart the smelter, which was operated by its unit Sterlite Copper.

The case rests now at the country’s Supreme Court, which hasn’t set a date to hear the case.

Vedanta’s smelter closure dented India’s copper output by almost half and turned the country into a net importer of the metal.

In the first two years of the shutdown, refined copper imports rose more than three times to 151,964 tonnes in the financial year ended March 2020, while exports fell 90% to 36,959 tonnes, according to a government statement.

(With files from Reuters)

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