Sterlite Copper CEO Pankaj Kumar said the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to shut down the Thoothukudi (earlier known as Tuticorin) plant is a national loss, due to which, “India’s contribution to world copper production has dropped drastically due to this decision”.
Kumar spoke to Davis Index after International Copper Study Group (ICSG) released a report on Dec 9 stating that India’s share in world copper refined production has dropped to 2.3pc (2018) from 3.9pc (2009).
Kumar added that the plant shutdown will leave India a net importer of copper, from being a net exporter for last 18 years.
Sterlite Copper, a Vedanta subsidiary, saw its Tuticorin plant shut down in May 2018.
Kumar said that before its closure, Sterlite Copper had 40pc share in India’s overall copper production with annual production at 0.4mn mt. “40pc of the copper was exported to China and South Asia,” Kumar said.
The Madurai High Court will complete hearing the Thoothukudi plant closure case in December 2019. The plant was closed on the orders of the Tamil Nadu government, after violent protests by residents who complained about the site being a health hazard.
ICSG said that world copper mine production rose to 20.6mn mt in 2019 from 15.9mn mt in 2018. The report mentions that concentrate production rose by 31.5pc or 4mn mt and solvent extraction-electrowinning (Sx-EW) rose by 19.5pc or 0.7mn mt.
Sterlite Copper operated the 160 MW coal-based power plant in Thoothkudi.
Sterlite Copper operates a 400,000 mt per annum smelter, with associate facilities such as a copper rod other plants all at Thoothukudi.
It also has two units in Silvassa and Dadra & Nagar Haveli.