Post NGT, Sterlite may ask TN govt, consent to reopen

Last Updated 16 December 2018, 13:52 IST

Buoyed by the NGT order allowing the reopening of its Tuticorin plant, Sterlite Copper CEO P Ramnath on Sunday said the company will now approach the Tamil Nadu government for consent to resume operations at the unit.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Saturday set aside the Tamil Nadu government order for closure of the copper unit at Tuticorin, which was at the centre of massive protests over alleged pollution, saying it was "non-sustainable" and "unjustified".

In May, Vedanta's Sterilte Copper had to close the smelter plant following the state government order. The company had challenged the order in the NGT.

On his next move after the NGT order, Ramnath told PTI, "We will approach the Tamil Nadu government based on this order next week. We will approach for consent to operate, and immediately, we will ask them for access to the plant because the order also mentions the district collector should give access to the plant."

"Our aim is to make the plant operational as soon as possible," he added.

The company has been abiding with all environmental laws, Ramnath said adding "we have always been saying that we are a compliant company and make sure environmental laws are followed."

The company's 4,00,000 tonne per annum plant met over 30 per cent of the of India's copper demand. It also produced sulphuric and phosphoric acids as by-products which are key raw materials for manufacturing of fertiliser.

On the impact of the closure of the plant, Ramnath had earlier said that "due to the shutdown in the last six months... the import of the metal (copper) has seen a surge. While premium on copper has gone up by 10-15 per cent, the import of the metal has shot up 2.5 times to nearly 30,000 tonne per month".

Sterlite Copper's plant closure has led to a spike in prices of phosphoric and sulphuric acids, adversely affecting the downstream chemical and fertilisers industry, he had said.

"The plant met 80-90 per cent of demand for sulphuric acid in the country and 15 per cent of the phosphoric acid demand. The closure of our plant has led to a sharp surge in demand, thereby driving up prices," Ramnath added. In the last six months, prices of sulphuric acid have shot up from Rs 3,000/tonne to Rs 12,000/tonne, and a tonne of phosphoric acid costs Rs 53,000 as compared to Rs 43,000 a tonne six month earlier, a rise of 23 per cent, the CEO said.

(Published 16 December 2018, 13:31 IST)

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