Vedanta says copper smelter shutdown could cost $100 m

Vedanta says copper smelter shutdown could cost $100 m

Vedanta would suffer a loss of about $100 million if its Tuticorin copper smelter in southern India continues to remain shut for a year, Chairman Anil Agarwal told a television channel on Friday.

The smelter has been shut since May after the Tamil Nadu state government cut power supply to the unit, following violent protests over alleged pollution resulted in the death of 13 people in police firing.

Vedanta has sought a permanent injunction against the state government from interfering with the operations of its copper smelter, according to a petition filed with the country's environmental court.

"This (plant) is about 2% of our balance sheet... and if the plant is shut down for the whole year we will have a loss of about $100 million," Agarwal told the channel.

Agarwal did not elaborate and the company did not respond to Reuters' email seeking comments.

When asked about his firm's backup plan if the government orders for a permanent closure of the plant, he said "Whatever will happen, we will accept."

Agarwal, however, said he was hopeful of a resolution to the shutdown.

Shares in the company were trading down 2.74% at Rs 202.50 by 7.20 GMT, after falling as much as 3.6% earlier in the session.

Vedanta, which aims to delist its shares from the London Stock Exchange, has interest in hydrocarbons, metal and mining business in India.

The company wants to raise its stake in Hindustan Zinc Ltd through purchase of government's stake.

"The government had intentions to give another 20-25% of shares and whenever they give, we will take it and we can merge in and make it (Hindustan Zinc) one Vedanta Ltd. But at this point I am very comfortable to run the entire company together," he said.

Agarwal said Vedanta's current cost of oil production stands at $6 a barrel and it aims to produce 50% of the country's oil output. The company produces about 30% of India's oil output, mainly through its block in Rajasthan.

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