Shares of mining major Vedanta slumped sharply morning after the company invited Expression of Interest to sell its shut Sterlite copper plant in Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin.
The plant has been shut since May 2018 after a police firing killed 13 people during a protest against environmental pollution allegedly caused by the plant.
Along with the copper plant, smelter complex, sulphuric acid plant, copper refinery, continuous copper rod plant, phosphoric acid plant, effluent treatment plant, captive power plant, RO units, oxygen generation plant, and residential complex with amenities are also up for sale.
The last day to submit the Expression of Interest is July 4.
At 11.13 a.m, the shares were at Rs 236.5, down 10.4 per cent from the previous close.
The Tuticorin copper plant has a total installed capacity of 400,000 tonne per annum and another 400,000 tonne under expansion.
The plant produces around India’s 40 per cent copper demand and contributes approximately Rs 2,500 crore to the exchequer. It employs direct employment to 5,000 people and to another 25,000 indirectly through the supply chain.
The domestic production capacity of refined copper was badly hit after the shutting of the plant. The reduction in domestic capacity saw a sharp surge in imports as copper is a key input for many manufacturing industries.
It resulted in India becoming a large importer of the commodity of which it was a major exporter for years.
The Madras High Court in August 2020 refused to allow the reopening of the plant.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had dismissed a petition seeking reopening of the plant for maintenance, calling it “frivolous”, however, had granted the liberty to the group to approach the Madras High Court with its plea for reopening.
The apex court had set aside a National Green Tribunal (NGT) order of December 15, 2018, which had allowed the firm to reopen the plant. It had said the NGT did not have jurisdiction to entertain the appeal against the Tamil Nadu government’s decision.