Four years after 13 protestors were murdered in alleged police shooting at its sterlite copper factory in Tamil Nadu, India’s metal and mining firm Vedanta has chosen to sell it. In collaboration with Axis Capital, the business has solicited Expressions of Interest (EoI) for its Thoothukudi-based smelter. The corporation claimed that interested purchasers had until July 4, 6 p.m. to make their bids.
Sterlite Copper Plant facilities such as the copper refinery, copper rod plant, sulfuric acid plant, oxygen production unit, and residential complex have been listed for sale. The metals and mining giant has filed an advertising soliciting expressions of interest for the factory, which it claims accounts for 40% of India’s copper output and employs thousands.
It employed 5,000 people directly and another 25,000 indirectly at the time of its shutdown. Vedanta’s contentious 400,000-tonne-per-year copper smelter in Thoothukudi has been closed since May 2018, a week after violent demonstrations demanding the plant’s shutdown due to alleged pollution. A working committee of United Nations human rights experts also denounced the event for the “excessive and disproportionate use of fatal force by police.”
Vedanta, which has frequently refuted claims of pollution at the smelter, has petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn the state of Tamil Nadu’s decision to permanently close the smelter. The smelter was run by its subsidiary Sterlite Copper. It is unclear when the case will be heard by the Supreme Court.
The business, run by billionaire Anil Agarwal, said in March 2021 that it was searching for a state government partner to build a new copper smelter for 100 billion rupees ($1.37 billion).
Vedanta claimed the projected 500,000-tonne-per-year copper smelter could employ up to 10,000 people and that it was searching for a 1,000-acre location near a port. It is unclear whether the proposition sparked any interest.
Vedanta shares plunged as much as 14% to 227.60 and are now trading at a 52-week low.