MAC: Mines and Communities

Vedanta up to new tricks?

Published by MAC on 2018-11-19
Source: Reuters (2018-11-15)

Although the government of Tamil Nadu in India ordered closure of Vedanta's notorious Tuticorin (Thoothukudi) smelter - in belated response to citizen demands and police shootings earlier this year - the company is now marketing its production.

Is the move designed simply to raise much-needed cash? Or does it presage an attempt by Vedanta at forcing the government to reverse its order?

In any event,  the move will hardly be welcomed by thousands of people, yet to see any compensation for suffering the effects of the plant's pollution over more than two decades.

Vedanta sells copper concentrate from stockpiles at shuttered India smelter

Reuters

15 November 2018

NEW DELHI/SHANGHAI – India's Vedanta Ltd has been selling copper concentrate on the spot market from stockpiles at its Sterlite smelter, a company official said, after the facility was forced to stop operating earlier this year amid pollution concerns.

The company is disposing of around 70,000 tonnes of copper concentrate that have been lying unused since the closure of the plant, the official told Reuters on Thursday. He declined to be identified, saying it was against company policy.

The Tamil Nadu state disconnected the smelter's power supply in May following anti-pollution protests that turned violent and lead to the death of 13 protesters."

The company has denied that the plant, India's second biggest copper smelter located in the port city of Thoothukudi, pollutes the area.

The closure of the plant has disrupted Asia's copper market. But traders expect it to restart in 2019, saying the selldown of stockpiles was likely to be because the company is looking to raise cash and square its books before year-end rather than a sign the facility would not reopen.

"A few weeks we had got some enquiries (from Vedanta)," Birla Copper CEO J. C. Laddha told Reuters.

"If they are selling and it makes sense for us commercially, we would definitely be interested."

Spot treatment and refining charges (TC/RCS), which miners pay smelters to process their metal, have moved to two-year highs at $91.50 and 9.2 cents according to Asian Metal, up by a quarter from five-year lows touched in April.

That is higher than benchmark terms for next year that were agreed this week. Chinese copper smelter Jiangxi Copper and miner Antofagasta agreed 2019 copper treatment and refining charges (TC/RCs) at $80.80 a tonne and 8.08 cents a pound, three sources familiar with the matter said.

(By Mayank Bhardwaj, Tom Daly and Melanie Burton; Editing by Joseph Radford)

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